The effectiveness of music as an intervention for dementia patients in acute settings

A literature review


  • Kate Hack University of Warwick
  • Kate Martin Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust
  • Chris Atkinson Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust



dementia, therapy, music intervention, acute setting


In 2019 there were an estimated 50 million people living with dementia globally [1]. There is a strong need for therapies and interventions that ameliorate symptoms and improve quality of life for individuals living with dementia. Whilst there is evidence for the effectiveness of music interventions in long-term care settings, such as nursing homes, less research has been conducted into their effectiveness in acute settings. It is important to build up an evidence base of effective interventions in acute settings specifically, which often see the most challenging cases of symptoms associated with dementia. This systematic review represents a novel examination of the literature on music as an intervention for dementia patients in acute settings. A database search identified 204 papers, of which 10 studies satisfied criteria and were reviewed. A quality assessment framework was applied, with the majority of studies scoring highly (above 80%). The review identified 4 areas where music interventions have been utilized to improve outcomes for dementia patients in acute settings: mood and wellbeing, behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, and use of inpatient resources. The most reliable evidence is currently within mood and behavior domains reflecting positive change following music intervention for inpatients. Limitations, clinical implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.


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