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Nurs Stand. 2010 Jan 13-19;24(19):35-41.

Therapeutic effects of music and singing for older people.

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  • 1Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, Folkestone.



To identify how music and singing may be used therapeutically by nurses in caring for older people.


A multimethod approach was taken, comprising a search of the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and Medline databases, and the extraction of relevant articles from three existing reviews.


Two reviews and 16 research reports were identified, the majority of which were intervention studies. All the studies reported benefits from music or singing for older people. Positive findings related to dementia, specific disorders (osteoarthritis pain, post-operative delirium, sleep difficulties, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and older people living at home. Recommendations for nursing were made, although there is a need for clarification on how nursing interventions should be implemented.


The evidence base to support the benefits of music and singing is increasing, and it is suggested that nurses may contribute to appropriate interventions and referrals. There is a need for further research, both to support these findings and to explore the nursing role in relation to providing music and singing therapies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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