Research – Making the case for music

The music and dementia sector is supported by a robust and growing evidence base which is quickly gaining traction. The continually developing research base is effectively demonstrating the range of benefits of music for people living with dementia.

In the 2018 Cochrane Review, Music-based therapeutic interventions for people with dementia, 22 trials were included in the review, and from their results they found music-based treatments improve symptoms of depression and overall behavioural problems, and may also improve anxiety and emotion well-being, including quality of life.

The NICE Older People, Independence and mental wellbeing guidance (2015) recommends that services provided a range of group activities for people living with dementia, ‘including singing programmes and choirs led by professional qualified people’.

The NICE guidance for Dementia: Assessment, Management and Support for People Living with Dementia and Their Carers (2018) point towards ways in which music, and its inherent flexibility to support personalised care, can be helpful for people living with dementia. For example, Guideline 1.7.9 states, ‘for people living with dementia who experience agitation or aggression, offer personalised activities to promote engagement, pleasure and interest’. Guideline 1.11 under the guidelines for Supporting Carers states that carers should be given ‘advice on planning enjoyable and meaningful activities to do with the person they care for, such as how to find psychological therapies’.

There are many ways in which music and music therapy can fulfil these guidelines and the resources and tools on our website can help you to do this. What is exciting for is that further research is likely to have a significant impact on what we know about the effects of music-based interventions for people living with dementia, so continuing research is vital!

There is much to be celebrated in the existing literature, which shows that music can promote a range of hugely beneficial outcomes for people with dementia. Moreover, when used appropriately and in a meaningful way, the use of music has no known negative impacts.

Research gives us hope

Outlined below are some recent research papers. If you would like to add your piece of research to this section, please contact us –

Useful links