Latest Research in Music Therapy

We have all seen the movie “Alive Inside” and read about how good music therapy is for people living with dementia but, as I have learnt from Professor Richard Fleming and Kirsty Bennett, ideas must be followed up with evidence based research. A new study by Brown University, Rhode Island suggests that personalised music has important psychiatric benefits for people living with dementia in aged care facilities.

The study implementing the “Music and Memory Programme” was conducted evaluating more than 25,000 residents in 196 nursing homes.

The Brown University evaluations found that after a home adopted the Programme, residents with dementia became significantly more likely to discontinue anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medications and significantly less likely to engage in disruptive behaviours, compared to those residing in homes not using the Programme. 

The authors, Thomas and Baier, did acknowledge key limitations in their study because they didn’t track everything each aged care facility might be doing to achieve the improvements, simply put they couldn’t be sure that all the improvements were because of the Music and Memory programme specifically. However, because the team didn’t know which or how many residents received the intervention, they assumed that every eligible resident did. Therefore it might be that only a fraction of residents actually received the Programme and the results of the study might be understated. “In other words, the Programme may have an even greater impact than reported,” Baier said.

Brown University have stated “To improve their evaluation, Baier, Thomas and their colleagues plan to conduct a second study in which they will randomize some homes to implement the programme and some comparison homes to continue without it. By randomizing and collecting data about how the Programme is implemented, they’ll be able to account for the current limitations. They have applied for funding to proceed.”

We will keep you posted as we receive further information about the second study. In the meantime the study has been published in the “American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry”

The authors are Baier, Thomas, Kosar, Ogarek, Trepman and Mor.

KnowledgeAmy Bosnar