The effect of music therapy on cognitive functions in patients with dementia.

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Objectives: The aim of the present study was to meta-analyze the effect of music therapy (MT) on cognitive functions in patients with dementia.

Method: A systematic literature search was performed in Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL and RILM up to 8 September 2016. We included all randomized controlled trials that compared MT with standard care, or other non-musical types of intervention, evaluating cognitive outcomes in patients with dementia. Outcomes included global cognition, complex attention, executive function, learning and memory, language, and perceptual-motor skills.

Results: From 1089 potentially relevant records, 110 studies were assessed for eligibility, and 7 met the inclusion criteria, of which 6 contained appropriate data for meta-analysis (330 participants, mean age range 78.8–86.3). Overall, random-effects meta-analyses suggested no significant effects of MT on all outcomes. Subgroup analysis found evidence of a beneficial effect of active MT on global cognition (SMD = 0.29, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.57, p = 0.04).

Conclusion: Despite the limited evidence of the present review, it is important to continue supporting MT as a complementary treatment for older adults with dementia. RCTs with larger sample sizes are needed to better elucidate the impact of MT on cognitive functions.

Full reference: The effect of music therapy on cognitive functions in patients with dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis   | Aging & Mental Health | Published online: 10 Jul 2017

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