Effects of individual music therapy on quality of life, agitated behaviour and medication for people with dementia

Project Department: Uni Research Health (group: Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre) period: 01.08.10 - 31.12.12

Project results

Six weeks of music therapy reduces agitation disruptiveness and prevents medication increases in people with dementia. Agitation disruptiveness increased during standard care and decreased during music therapy. The difference at −6.77 (95% CI (confidence interval): −12.71, −0.83) was significant (p = 0.027), with a medium effect size (0.50). The prescription of psychotropic medication increased significantly more often during standard care than during music therapy (p = 0.02).

In a crossover trial, 42 participants with dementia were randomized to a sequence of six weeks of individual music therapy and six weeks of standard care. Outcome measures included agitation, quality of life and medication.

The results are published in Aging and Mental Health



About the project

As both an RCT and a multiple case study, this pilot project will explore whether music therapy has a significant effect on people with dementia when it comes to quality of life, agitated behaviour and medication. The data will be collected by music therapist from Denmark, Australia and Norway from their everyday clinical work.  

Music therapy as supplementary treatment

Today there’s about 18 million people worldwide that suffer from dementia, a number that is expected to increase to about 34 million in 2025. This will require large annual extra costs regarding treatment and nursing.

The types of dementia that can be characterized by psychiatric symptoms and behavioural disturbances are often treated with medicines to reduce the activity, but there is now also a growing interest for the use of non-medical treatments. Music therapy is such a treatment that can work as a supplement to standard care, and music therapy is a well documented method for reducing agitated behaviour in people with dementia. But there are so far few RCT studies in this field.


Principal researcher and principal project manager: Hanne Mette Ridder (Denmark). Principal researher in Norway is Brynjulf Stige and Principal researher in Australia is Felicity Baker. Local project manager: Liv Gunnhild Qvale (Norway)



All articles


Research Topics