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

Raglio, Alfredo MT* †; Bellelli, Giuseppe MD; Traficante, Daniela PsyD, PhD§; Gianotti, Marta MT*; Ubezio, Maria Chiara MD*; Villani, Daniele MD*; Trabucchi, Marco MD∥ ¶

Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders: April-June 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 158-162
doi: 10.1097/WAD.0b013e3181630b6f
Original Articles

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 enrolment 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× 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.

*Sospiro Foundation

Alzheimer's Evaluation Unit, Ancelle della Carità Hospital, Cremona

Interdem Group (Psycho-Social Interventions in Dementia)

§Department of Psychology and Education Technologies Research Center, Catholic University, Milan

Tor Vergata University, Rome

Geriatric Research Group, Brescia, Italy

Reprints: Alfredo Raglio, MT, Fondazione Sospiro, P.zza Libertà, 2 26048, Sospiro, Cremona, Italy (e-mail:;

Received for publication May 7, 2007; accepted November 14, 2007

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.