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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019 Jul 13. doi: 10.1111/jgs.16069. [Epub ahead of print]

Measuring Effects of Nondrug Interventions on Behaviors: Music & Memory Pilot Study.

McCreedy EM1,2, Yang X3, Baier RR1,2,4, Rudolph JL1,2,5, Thomas KS1,2,5, Mor V1,2,4,5.

Author information

Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, Rhode Island.
Department of Health Services, Policy, and Practice, Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, Rhode Island.
Department of Biostatistics, Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, Rhode Island.
Center for Long-Term Care Quality and Innovation, Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, Rhode Island.
Center of Innovation in Long Term Services and Supports, Providence Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Providence, Rhode Island.



Most people with Alzheimer disease and related dementias will experience agitated and/or aggressive behaviors during the later stages of the disease. These behaviors cause significant stress for people living with dementia and their caregivers, including nursing home (NH) staff. Addressing these behaviors without the use of chemical restraints is a growing focus of policy makers and professional organizations. Unfortunately, evidence for nonpharmacological strategies for addressing dementia-related behaviors is lacking.


Six-month, preintervention-postintervention pilot study.


US NHs (n = 4).


Residents with advanced dementia (n = 45).


Music & Memory, an individualized music program in which the music a resident preferred when she/he was young is delivered at early signs of agitation, using a personal music player.


Dementia-related behaviors for the same residents were measured three ways: (1) observationally using the Agitation Behavior Mapping Instrument (ABMI); (2) staff report using the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI); and (3) administratively using the Minimum Data Set-Aggressive Behavior Scale (MDS-ABS).


ABMI score was 4.1 (SD = 3.0) preintervention while not listening to the music, 4.4 (SD = 2.3) postintervention while not listening to the music, and 1.6 (SD = 1.5) postintervention while listening to music (P < .01). CMAI score was 61.2 (SD = 16.3) preintervention and 51.2 (SD = 16.1) postintervention (P < .01). MDS-ABS score was 0.8 (SD = 1.6) preintervention and 0.7 (SD = 1.4) postintervention (P = .59).


Direct observations were most likely to capture behavioral responses, followed by staff interviews. Nursing-home based, pragmatic trials that rely solely on available administrative data may fail to detect effects of nonpharmaceutical interventions on behaviors. Findings are relevant to evaluations of nonpharmaceutical strategies for addressing behaviors in NHs, and will inform a large, National Institute on Aging-funded pragmatic trial beginning spring 2019.


behavior; dementia; music; nursing homes; pragmatic clinical trials as topic


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