Impacts of Music Intervention on Dementia: A Review Using Meta-Narrative Method and Agenda for Future Research

Mahsa Soufineyestani, Arshia Khan, Mina Sufineyestani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
121 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Dementia, a significant cognitive impairment, is characterized by a decline in memory. It affects an individual's mood and behavior, which can impair their quality of life and well-being. Studies show that the demand for applying music as a new therapy method for dementia has increased during the last decades.

OBJECTIVE: To review the studies conducted on the impacts of music on different symptoms of dementia and provide readers with a more detailed picture of the efficacy of music, and recognize gaps in the literature.

METHODS: Electronic searches were conducted in the Cochrane Library (1938), Embase (773), Medline and PubMed (700), PsycINFO (89), and Scopus (218) databases. The search was comprised of all the literature from 2010 to 2020. For the search, key terms including "Dementia" AND "music" OR "music intervention" OR "music therapy" and index terms "clinical trial" OR "randomized controlled trials" were used. Finally, after screening 891 citations, 30 studies were included.

RESULTS: In general, it was observed that in most cases, music could be used as one of the safe and cost-effective non-pharmacological approaches for dementia treatment. However, in some studies, no impact or short-term effect of music on some symptoms of dementia such as wandering, agitation, and cognition was detected.

CONCLUSION: Observing no effect or even negative impact of music on people living with dementia could be due to a random selection of music, fewer individuals, and the lack of a standard protocol. High heterogeneity in outcomes did not allow for clear conclusions on the benefits of music in dementia. This demands a comprehensive non-pharmacological music treatment approach to be designed for each stage of dementia to be employed alongside pharmacological treatments. This study proposes 13 gaps in the research on the health impact of music on dementia that could be studied by future researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalNeurology International
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Clinical trial
  • Dementia
  • Music
  • Music intervention
  • Music therapy
  • Randomized controlled trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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