Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are common problems for patients and caregivers. Although music therapy is considered a non-pharmacological intervention for the management of BPSD, its effectiveness remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effects of music therapy on BPSD, cognitive function, and activities of daily living in patients with dementia. A literature search was conducted in the following databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Igaku Chuo Zasshi. We selected 20 studies, including randomized controlled trials, controlled clinical trials, cohort studies, and controlled trials, and conducted a meta-analysis using standardized mean differences (SMD). The results showed that music therapy had moderate effects on anxiety [SMD, -0.64; 95% confidence interval (CI), -1.05 - -0.24; p=0.002] and small effects on behavioral symptoms (SMD, -0.49; 95% CI, -0.82 - -0.17; p=0.003). In studies of duration >3 months, music therapy had large effects on anxiety (SMD, -0.93; 95% CI, -1.72 - -0.13; p=0.02). The present systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that music therapy is effective for the management of BPSD.
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