Comparing the Effects of Multisensory Stimulation and Individualized Music Sessions on Elderly People with Severe Dementia: A Randomized Controlled Trial

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Mar 8;52(1):303-15. doi: 10.3233/JAD-151150.


The objective of this study was to compare the effects of a multisensory stimulation environment (MSSE) and individualized music sessions on agitation, emotional and cognitive status, and dementia severity in a sample of institutionalized patients with severe dementia. Twenty-two participants with a diagnosis of severe or very severe dementia were randomly assigned to two groups: MSSE and individualized music sessions. Both groups participated in two 30-min weekly sessions over 16 weeks. Outcomes were agitation (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory, CMAI), mood (Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia, CSDD), anxiety (Rating Anxiety in Dementia, RAID), cognitive function (Severe Mini-Mental State Examination, SMMSE), and the overall severity of dementia (Bedford Alzheimer Nursing Severity Scale, BANS-S). They were assessed at baseline (pre-trial), in the middle (mid-trial), at the end of the intervention (post-trial), and 8 weeks after the intervention (follow-up). Patients in the MSSE group showed significant improvement in their RAID and BANS-S scores compared with the individualized music group post- versus pre-trial. With regard to agitation, there was improvement during the intervention in both the MSSE and individualized music groups in the CMAI total score after 16 weeks of intervention, with no significant differences between the groups. The results suggest that MSSE could have better effects on anxiety symptoms and dementia severity in comparison with individualized music sessions in elderly patients with severe dementia.

Keywords: Dementia; Snoezelen; elderly; individualized music; multisensory environments; multisensory stimulation; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Cognition
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Precision Medicine / methods*
  • Sensory Art Therapies / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome