Original Study| Volume 21, ISSUE 8, P1045-1050.e2, August 2020

The Impact of Music and Memory on Resident Level Outcomes in California Nursing Homes



      To study the effects of a nonpharmacologic intervention, Music and Memory (M&M), on residents with dementia and/or behavioral problems living in nursing homes (NHs).


      This was a prospective, mixed-methods cohort study.

      Setting and Participants

      In total, 4107 residents in 265 California NHs and that reported data at least twice during the 3-year study period were enrolled.


      We used a quarterly rolling enrollment process; participants provided data at baseline and quarterly via an online survey that included select resident level data from the Minimum Data Set (psychotropic drug use, cognition, behaviors, mood, pain, and falls), experience with the M&M program, and resident use of music. NHs were eligible if they were Medicare- and Medicaid-certified and had 15 residents with a diagnosis of dementia or cognitive impairment or exhibited significant behavioral symptoms.


      M&M was associated with reductions in psychotropic medication use, reduced behaviors, and improved mood. The odds of antipsychotic use declined by about 11%, of antianxiety medications by 17%, and antidepressants by 9% per quarter. Aggressive behaviors, depressive symptoms, pain, and falls also declined significantly over time. The odds of residents exhibiting aggressive behaviors declined by 20% per quarter, depressive symptoms by 16%, reported pain by 17%, and falls by 8%.

      Conclusions and Implications

      This is the largest study of M&M to date. We found clinically and statistically significant reductions in psychotropic medications and improved behaviors in residents using M&M. Although the study showed positive results overall, the lack of a control group was a significant limitation that precluded determining how much more improvement participating residents experienced compared with nonparticipants. Future studies should include a control group so that better conclusions can be drawn regarding the effectiveness of the M&M program.


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