Efficacy of Music Therapy in the Treatment of Behavioral and Psychiatric Symptoms of Dementia

A. Raglio
G. Bellelli
D. Traficante
M. Gianotti
M. C. Ubezio
D. Villani
M. Trabucchi


BACKGROUND: Music therapy (MT) has been proposed as valid approach for behavioral and psychologic symptoms (BPSD) of dementia. However, studies demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach are lacking. OBJECTIVE: To assess MT effectiveness in reducing BPSD in subjects with dementia. METHOD: Fifty-nine persons with dementia were enrolled in this study. All of them underwent a multidimensional assessment including Mini Mental State Examination, Barthel Index and Neuropsychiatry Inventory at enrollment and after 8, 16, and 20 weeks. Subjects were randomly assigned to experimental (n=30) or control (n=29) group. The MT sessions were evaluated with standardized criteria. The experimental group received 30 MT sessions (16 wk of treatment), whereas the control group received educational support or entertainment activities. RESULTS: NPI total score significantly decreased in the experimental group at 8th, 16th, and 20th weeks (interaction time x group: F3,165=5.06, P=0.002). Specific BPSD (ie, delusions, agitation, anxiety, apathy, irritability, aberrant motor activity, and night-time disturbances) significantly improved. The empathetic relationship and the patients' active participation in the MT approach, also improved in the experimental group. CONCLUSIONS: The study shows that MT is effective to reduce BPSD in patients with moderate-severe dementia.