Effect of music therapy on older adults with depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Min Wang
Jingwen Wu
Hong Yan


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Depression is becoming more prevalent in older adults. Music therapy appears to have a positive effect on older adults with depression, but the effects of specific interventions (such as active music therapy and passive music therapy) are not fully known. This review aims to evaluate the therapeutic effects of music therapy and the effects of specific interventions on older adults with depression. METHODS: A systematic search was conducted from inception to June 2022, and an updated search was conducted in July 2023 on PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Embase, VIP, Wanfang Data, CNKI, and CBM. This review solely targeted randomized controlled trials. Two reviewers independently reviewed the retrieved studies. The risk of bias was evaluated using the Cochrane risk of bias assessment tool 2.0, and statistical analysis was made using the RevMan 5.4 software. RESULTS: Twenty-one studies with a total of 1777 participants were included. Music therapy was beneficial in reducing depression, anxiety, and blood pressure and increasing cognitive ability (p < 0.05). Subgroup analysis showed that passive music therapy, single intervention for 60 min, individual intervention format, and total duration of 20 h had a more significant effect on depressive symptoms in older adults. CONCLUSION: Music therapy reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, improves blood pressure, and enhances cognitive ability in older adults with depression. Further rigorously designed studies are warranted to confirm the effects of music therapy on older adults with depression.