The effect of music therapy on cognitive functions in patients with dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author: Fusar-Poli L1, Bieleninik Ł2, Brondino N1, Chen XJ3, Gold C2
1a Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences , University of Pavia , Pavia , Italy.
2b The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre , Uni Research Health, Uni Research , Bergen , Norway.
3c CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health , Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Science , Beijing , China.
Conference/Journal: Aging Ment Health.
Date published: 2017 Jul 10
Other: Volume ID: 1-10 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1348474. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 188

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to meta-analyze the effect of music therapy (MT) on cognitive functions in patients with dementia.

METHOD: A systematic literature search was performed in Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL and RILM up to 8 September 2016. We included all randomized controlled trials that compared MT with standard care, or other non-musical types of intervention, evaluating cognitive outcomes in patients with dementia. Outcomes included global cognition, complex attention, executive function, learning and memory, language, and perceptual-motor skills.

RESULTS: From 1089 potentially relevant records, 110 studies were assessed for eligibility, and 7 met the inclusion criteria, of which 6 contained appropriate data for meta-analysis (330 participants, mean age range 78.8-86.3). Overall, random-effects meta-analyses suggested no significant effects of MT on all outcomes. Subgroup analysis found evidence of a beneficial effect of active MT on global cognition (SMD = 0.29, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.57, p = 0.04).

CONCLUSION: Despite the limited evidence of the present review, it is important to continue supporting MT as a complementary treatment for older adults with dementia. RCTs with larger sample sizes are needed to better elucidate the impact of MT on cognitive functions.

KEYWORDS: Dementia; cognitive functioning; meta-analysis; music therapy

PMID: 28691506 DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1348474