The effect of regular listening to preferred music on pain, depression and anxiety in older care home residents

Fiona Costa, George Ockelford

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This research assesses the effect of listening to preferred music on pain, depression and anxiety in older care home residents. One hundred and thirteen participants were randomly allocated to either an experimental or a control group. The former, in addition to their usual routine, listened to a daily 30-minute programme of preferred music over a three-week period. Weekly assessments, using validated measures with some adaptations, evaluated levels of pain, depression and anxiety, each a common disorder in this population. The two groups then crossed over, thus enabling all participants to receive the potential benefits of the music intervention. Results showed statistically significant decreases for each dependent variable with the size of the effect being greater for depression and anxiety than for pain. There were no significant improvements for those in the control group. Additional analysis identified variables that either facilitated or limited the benefits of the music. Those with severe pain were unable to benefit, but those who regarded music as important, listened frequently and whose preferences were accommodated benefited to a greater degree than others. It was concluded that listening to preferred music may benefit many members of the care home population although not all will benefit to the same degree.

© 2017, The Author(s). This is an author produced version of a paper published in PSYCHOLOGY OF MUSIC uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-191
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2017


  • older adults, pain, depression, anxiety, preferred music, care homes

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