Background/aims: Numerous studies have indicated the value of music therapy in the management of patients with Alzheimer's disease. A recent pilot study demonstrated the feasibility and usefulness of a new music therapy technique. The aim of this controlled, randomised study was to assess the effects of this new music therapy technique on anxiety and depression in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer-type dementia.
Methods: This was a single-centre, comparative, controlled, randomised study, with blinded assessment of its results. The duration of follow-up was 24 weeks. The treated group (n = 15) participated in weekly sessions of individual, receptive music therapy. The musical style of the session was chosen by the patient. The validated 'U' technique was employed. The control group (n = 15) participated under the same conditions in reading sessions. The principal endpoint, measured at weeks 1, 4, 8, 16 and 24, was the level of anxiety (Hamilton Scale). Changes in the depression score (Geriatric Depression Scale) were also analyzed as a secondary endpoint.
Results: Significant improvements in anxiety (p < 0.01) and depression (p < 0.01) were observed in the music therapy group as from week 4 and until week 16. The effect of music therapy was sustained for up to 8 weeks after the discontinuation of sessions between weeks 16 and 24 (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: These results confirm the valuable effect of music therapy on anxiety and depression in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. This new music therapy technique is simple to implement and can easily be integrated in a multidisciplinary programme for the management of Alzheimer's disease.
Copyright 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.