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Keywords:

  • dementia;
  • music intervention;
  • older adults;
  • anxiety;
  • agitated behaviours

Objective

This experimental study aimed to evaluate the effects of a group music intervention on anxiety and agitation of institutionalized older adults with dementia.

Methods

A total of 60 participants were randomly assigned to an experimental or a control group. The experimental group received a 30-min music intervention using percussion instruments with familiar music in a group setting in mid afternoon twice weekly for 6 weeks, whereas the control group received usual care with no music intervention. The Rating of Anxiety in Dementia scale was used to assess anxiety, and Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory was used to assess agitation at baseline, week 4 and week 6.

Results

Repeated measures analysis of covariance indicated that older adults who received a group music intervention had a significantly lower anxiety score than those in the control group while controlling for pre-test score and cognitive level (F = 8.98, p = 0.004). However, the reduction of agitation between two groups was not significantly different.

Conclusions

Anxiety and agitation are common in older adults with dementia and have been reported by caregivers as challenging care problems. An innovative group music intervention using percussion instruments with familiar music as a cost-effective approach has the potential to reduce anxiety and improve psychological well-being of those with dementia. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.