Music therapy & music based interventions in the context of dementia: Recommendations for clinical guidelines - Part II




The therapeutic benefits of music are well recognized in care for the elderly and especially for people with dementia (PWD).  Currently, music-based programs occur at different levels and by a variety of professionals. The challenge is to ensure that music is provided in a positive and beneficial way.   There is a need for clinical practice guidelines, based on research outcomes in order to guarantee reliable music therapy and music-based intervention procedures for people with dementia (PWD) so that these interventions are properly implemented by professional music therapists, other health allied professionals as well as caregivers. This paper reflects on this need in order to guarantee successful best practices in the use of music with PWD.


Author Biographies

Melissa Mercadal-Brotons, Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (Esmuc)

Music therapy and music-based activities with people with dementia and/or their caregivers.

Concetta M. Tomaino

DA, LCAT, MT-BC Executive director/co-founder , Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. One Wartburg Place, Mount Vernon, NY

Tereza Raquel Alcântara Silva

PhD, MT, Professor and researcher at the Federal University of Goiás (UFG), GO, Brazil

Shirlene Vianna Moreira

PhD, MT, Unit of Cognitive and Behavioral Disorders (UNICOG), Hospital Maternidade Therezinha de Jesus (HMTJ), MG, Brazil


Särkämö T. Cognitive, emotional, and neural benefits of musical leisure activities in aging and neurological rehabilitation: A critical review. Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2018;61(6):414-418. doi:10.1016/

Mohler R, Renom A, Renom H, et al. Personally tailored activities for improving psychosocial outcomes for people with dementia in long-term care. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;2:Cd009812. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009812.pub2

Francourt D & Finn, S. Health evidence sythesis report 67. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving helath and well being? A scoping review. Copenhagen, DK: World Health Organization (EU); 2019.

Chang YS, Chu H, Yang CY, et al. The efficacy of music therapy for people with dementia: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. J Clin Nurs. 2015;24:3425-3440. doi:org/10.1111/jocn.12976

What is Music Therapy. Published in 2011. Accessed December 23, 2020.

Ray KD, Götell E. The use of music and music therapy in ameliorating depression symptoms and improving well-being in nursing home residents with dementia. Front Med. 2018. doi:10.3389/fmed.2018.00287

Graham R, Mancher M, Wolman DM, Greenfield S, Steinberg D, eds. Clinical practice guidelines we can trust. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2011.

Treweek, S, Oxman, AD, Alderson, P. et al. Developing and evaluating communication strategies to support informed decisions and practice based on evidence (DECIDE): protocol and preliminary results. Implement. Sci.. 2014; 8:6.

Lam HL, Li WTV, Laher I, et al. Effects of music therapy on patients with dementia—A systematic review. Geriatrics. 2020;5(4):62.

Vasionytė I, Madison G. Musical intervention for patients with dementia: A meta-analysis. J Clin Nurs. 2013;22:1203-16. doi:10.1111/jocn.12166.

Clair AA. The effects of music therapy on engagement in family caregiver and care receiver couples with dementia. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2002: 17(5): 286–290.

Gok Ugur H, Orak OS, Yaman Aktas Y. Enginyurt O, Saglambilen O. (2019). Effects of music therapy on the care burden of in-home caregivers and physiological parameters of their in-home dementia patients: A randomized controlled trial. Complement. Med. Res. 2019; 26(1): 22-30.

Tamplin J, Clark IN, Lee YC, Baker FA.. Remini-sing: A feasibility study of therapeutic group singing to support relationship quality and wellbeing for community-dwelling people living with dementia and their family caregivers. Front. Med. 2018; 5: 245.

Baker FA, Stretton-Smith P, Clark IN, Tamplin J, Lee YC. A group therapeutic songwriting intervention for family caregivers of people living with dementia: A feasibility study with thematic analysis. Front. Med. 2018; 5: 151.

Brotons M, Marti P. Music therapy with Alzheimer's patients and their family caregivers: a pilot project. J Music Ther. 2033; 40(2): 138–150.

Rio R. (2018). A community-based music therapy support group for people with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers: A sustainable partnership model. Front. Med.2018; 5: 293.

Hammar LM., Emami A, Engström G, Götell E.. Reactions of persons with dementia to caregivers singing in morning care situations. Open Nurs. J. 2010; 4: 35–41.


2021-07-23 — Updated on 2021-08-11




Full Length Articles