Rhythm-centred music making in community living elderly: a randomized pilot study

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Jun 14;17(1):311. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1825-x.


Background: Quality of life has become an important aspect in the measurement of the health of an individual as the population ages. Rhythm-centred music making (RMM) has been shown to improve physical, psychological and social health. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of RMM on quality of life, depressive mood, sleep quality and social isolation in the elderly.

Methods: A randomised controlled trial with cross over was conducted. 54 participants were recruited with 27 participants in each arm. In phase 1, group A underwent the intervention with group B as the control. In phase 2, group B underwent the intervention with group A as the control. The intervention involved 10 weekly RMM sessions. Patient related outcome data which included European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions (EQ5D), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS) scores were collected before the intervention, at 11th and at the 22nd week.

Results: A total of 31 participants were analyzed at the end of the study. The mean age was 74.65 ± 6.40 years. In analysing the change in patient related outcome variables as a continuous measure, participation in RMM resulted in a non-significant reduction in EQ5D by 0.004 (95% CI: -0.097,0.105), GDS score by 0.479 (95% CI:-0.329,1.287), PSQI score by 0.929 (95% CI:- 0.523,2.381) and an improvement in LSNS by 1.125 (95% CI:-2.381,0.523). In binary analysis, participation in RMM resulted in a 37% (OR = 1.370, 95% CI: 0.355,5.290), 55.3% (OR = 1.553, 95% CI: 0.438,5.501), 124.1% (OR = 2.241, 95% CI = 0.677,7.419) and 14.5% (OR = 1.145, 95% CI = 0.331,3.963) non-significant increase in odds of improvement in EQ5D, GDS, PSQI and LSNS scores respectively.

Conclusion: Participation in RMM did not show any statistically significant difference in the quality of life of the participants. It is however, an interesting alternative tool to use in the field of integrative medicine. Moving forward, a larger study could be performed to investigate the effects of RMM on the elderly with an inclusion of a qualitative component to evaluate effects of RMM that were not captured by quantitative indicators.

Trial registration: This trial was retrospectively registered. This trial was registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry under trial number ACTRN12616001281482 on 12 September 2016.

Keywords: Geriatrics; Music; Pilot projects; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music Therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life