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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • music intervention;
  • older adults

Aim.  To determine the effect of music on depression levels in older adults.

Background.  Depression is a common psychiatric disorder in older adults, and its impacts on this group of people, along with its conventional treatment, merit our attention. Conventional pharmacological methods might result in dependence and impairment in psychomotor and cognitive functioning. Listening to music, which is a non-pharmacological method, might reduce depression.

Design.  A randomised controlled study.

Method.  The study was conducted from July 2009–June 2010 at participants’ home in Singapore. In total, 50 older adults (24 using music and 26 control) completed the study after being recruited. Participants listened to their choice of music for 30 minutes per week for eight weeks.

Outcome measures.  Depression scores were collected once a week for eight weeks.

Results.  Depression levels reduced weekly in the music group, indicating a cumulative dose effect, and a statistically significant reduction in depression levels was found over time in the music group compared with non-music group.

Conclusions.  Listening to music can help older people to reduce their depression level.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Music is a non-invasive, simple and inexpensive therapeutic method of improving life quality in community-dwelling older people.