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Keywords:

  • agitated behaviours;
  • dementia;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • preferred music

Aims and objectives.  This paper reviews study findings of preferred music on agitated behaviours for older people with dementia and provides implications for future research and practice.

Background.  Music has been suggested as a feasible and less costly intervention to manage agitated behaviours in older people with dementia. However, no review of the literature focusing on study findings of preferred music on agitated behaviours in older people with dementia had been reported.

Methods.  A review was undertaken using electronic databases with specified search terms for the period of 1993–2005. The references listed in the publications selected were also searched for additional studies.

Results.  Eight research-based articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. The preferred music intervention demonstrated positive outcomes in reducing the occurrence of some types of agitated behaviours in older people with dementia. The findings from these studies were relatively consistent in finding improvement in agitated behaviours although the findings in one study did not reach statistical significance. The small sample sizes and some variations in the application of the preferred music intervention mean that caution is needed in drawing conclusions from these studies.

Conclusions.  This review highlights that preferred music has positive effects on decreasing agitated behaviours in older people with dementia; however, the methodological limitations indicate the need for further research.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Findings from the review highlight the beneficial outcomes of preferred music in reducing agitated behaviours for older people with dementia. The incorporation of preferred music has the potential to provide a therapeutic approach to the care of older people with dementia.