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The effect of music therapy compared with general recreational activities in reducing agitation in people with dementia: a randomised controlled trial


Vink, A. C., Zuidersma, M., Boersma, F., de Jonge, P., Zuidema, S. U., Slaets, J. P. J.


International Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, Volume: 28, No.: 10, Pages.: 1031-1038

Year of Publication



Objective: This study aimed to compare the effects of music therapy with general recreational day activities in reducing agitation in people with dementia, residing in nursing home facilities.; Methods: In a randomised controlled design, residents with dementia (n = 94) were allocated to either music therapy or recreational activities. Both music therapy and general activities were offered twice weekly for 4 months. Changes in agitation were measured with a modified Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) at four intervals on each intervention day. A mixed model analysis was used to evaluate the effectiveness of music therapy, compared with general activities, on CMAI scores at 4 h after the intervention, controlled for CMAI scores at 1 h before the session and session number.; Results: Data were analysed for 77 residents (43 randomised to music therapy and 34 to general activities). In both groups, the intervention resulted in a decrease in agitated behaviours from 1 h before to 4 h after each session. This decrease was somewhat greater in the music therapy group than in the general activities group, but this difference was statistically not significant (F = 2.885, p = 0.090) and disappeared completely after adjustment for Global Deterioration Scale stage (F = 1.500; p = 0.222).; Conclusions: Both music therapy and recreational activities lead to a short-term decrease in agitation, but there was no additional beneficial effect of music therapy over general activities. More research is required to provide insight in the effects of music therapy in reducing agitation in demented older people.; Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Bibtex Citation

@article{Vink_2012, doi = {10.1002/gps.3924}, url = {}, year = 2012, month = {dec}, publisher = {Wiley-Blackwell}, volume = {28}, number = {10}, pages = {1031--1038}, author = {A. C. Vink and M. Zuidersma and F. Boersma and P. de Jonge and S. U. Zuidema and J. P. J. Slaets}, title = {The effect of music therapy compared with general recreational activities in reducing agitation in people with dementia: a randomised controlled trial}, journal = {Int J Geriatr Psychiatry} }


aged, aged, 80 and over, aggression, agitation, cohenmansfield agitation inventory, dementia, female, humans, male, music therapy, netherlands, prevention & control, psychomotor agitation, randomised controlled trial, recreation therapy, recreational activities, severity of illness index, therapy, verbal behavior

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Randomised Controlled Trial

Type of Outcomes



Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Arts and Music Interventions (including Art and Music Therapy)