Delivering a Music Intervention in a Randomized Controlled Trial Involving Older People With Dementia: Musician Experiences and Reflections


  • Scott Harrison PhD, LMusA, LTCL
  • Marie Cooke PhD
  • Wendy Moyle PhD
  • David Shum PhD
  • Jenny Murfield BCs Hons



A qualitative thematic approach was used to explore musicians’ views and experiences of delivering a music intervention and its efficacy for people with dementia in long-term care. Two musicians who delivered the intervention in a randomized controlled trial were inter- viewed using a semistructured schedule. The data were sorted, categorized, and thematically analyzed. Two themes emerged: design of the protocol and efficacy of the program. Musicians felt that the intervention was appropriately designed, particularly in terms of repertoire selection, session length, incorporation of live and prerecorded music, and use of 2 musicians. They reported seeing improvements in mood, memory, general well-being, and quality of life for persons with dementia, both during and after the session. The findings support a music protocol structure that can be used for randomized controlled trials. They also highlight how standardized assessment tools used in randomized controlled trials can be complemented with qualitative, reflective evidence.

Author Biographies

Scott Harrison, PhD, LMusA, LTCL

Scott Harrison, PhD, LMusA, LTCL, is a lecturer in music and music education at Griffith University, with a research focus on music, gender, well-being, and education.

Marie Cooke, PhD

Marie Cooke, PhD, is the deputy head of School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, with research strength in complementary therapies.

Wendy Moyle, PhD

Wendy Moyle, PhD, is deputy director, Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation, Griffith University, specializing in dementia care and management of disruptive behaviors.

David Shum, PhD

David Shum, PhD, is deputy director, Griffith Institute of Health and Medical Research, and a neuropsychologist specializing in the effects of brain injury.

Jenny Murfield, BCs Hons

Jenny Murfield, BCs Hons, is a senior research assistant, Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation, Griffith University, with experience in educational and health-related research.



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