Music and Psychology & Social Connections Program: Protocol for a Novel Intervention for Dyads Affected by Younger-Onset Dementia

Brain Sci. 2022 Apr 15;12(4):503. doi: 10.3390/brainsci12040503.


Psychosocial interventions targeting the specific needs of people affected by younger-onset dementia are lacking. Younger-onset dementia refers to dementia where symptom onset occurs at less than 65 years old. Because of its occurrence in middle age, the impact on spouses is particularly marked and dyadic-based interventions are recommended. Music And Psychology & Social Connections (MAPS) is a novel online intervention, informed by the theory of adaptive coping by Bannon et al. (2021) for dyads affected by younger-onset dementia. MAPS combines therapeutic songwriting, cognitive behaviour therapy, and a private social networking group that focuses on the dyads. This will be a randomised controlled trial with a waitlist control. The primary aims are to assess whether MAPS improves depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms in caregivers, with secondary aims to assess whether MAPS improves depressive symptoms in people with younger-onset dementia. The trial also aims to assess dyadic social connectedness; caregiver coping skills; and neuropsychiatric symptoms in people with younger-onset dementia. We will recruit 60 dyads to participate in a group-based weekly online program for 8 weeks facilitated by a credentialed music therapist and psychologist. Sessions 1 and 8 will include both caregivers and people with younger-onset dementia and Sessions 2-7 will involve separate group sessions for caregivers and those with dementia. There will be focus groups for qualitative feedback. Due to its online administration, MAPS has the potential to reach many dyads affected by younger-onset dementia.

Keywords: dementia; music-based therapies and intervention; online; psychotherapy; therapeutic songwriting; younger-onset dementia.