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J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;38(2):359-69. doi: 10.3233/JAD-130893.

Efficacy of musical interventions in dementia: evidence from a randomized controlled trial.

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Laboratoire de Neurosciences Fonctionnelles et Pathologies, UFR de psychologie, Université Lille Nord de France, Lille, France Equipe Neuropsychologie du Vieillissement, Institut de Psychologie, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France.


Although musical interventions have recently gained popularity as a non-pharmacological treatment in dementia, there is still insufficient evidence of their effectiveness. To investigate this issue, a single-center randomized controlled trial was conducted with forty-eight patients with Alzheimer's disease or mixed dementia to compare the effects of music versus cooking interventions in the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral domain, as well as on professional caregiver distress. Each intervention lasted four weeks (two one-hour sessions a week). Multi-component evaluations (with blind assessors) were conducted before, during, and after the interventions to assess their short and long-term effects (up to four weeks post interventions). Analyses revealed that both music and cooking interventions led to positive changes in the patients' emotional state and decreased the severity of their behavioral disorders, as well as reduced caregiver distress. However, no benefit on the cognitive status of the patients was seen. While results did not demonstrate a specific benefit of music on any of the considered measures, the present study suggests the efficacy of two pleasant non-pharmacological treatments in patients with moderate to severe dementia. Our findings highlight the potential of such interventions in improving the well-being of patients living in residential care, as well as reducing caregiver distress.


Behavioral disorders; caregiver distress; cooking; dementia; mood; music; non-pharmacological treatment; nursing

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