The influence of group singing therapy on the behavior of Alzheimer's disease patients
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of therapeutic group singing of familiar songs on the behviors of Alzheimer's Disease patients. Ten patients, 7 women and 3 men, between the ages of 71 and 98, were selected for the study. The patients resided on a "special care unit" in a residential nursing home for geriatric clients. The unit was specifically designed for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Nine of the ten patients had the diagnosis of "Alzheimer's disease", while one patient had the more general diagnosis of "Organic Brain Syndrome". Sessions were held twice weekly, for one-half hour, for five weeks. A reversal design (ABABA) was incorporated with subjects serving as their own controls. Baseline Condition A consisted of discussion sessions based on visual prompts displayed by the experimenter, while Treatment Condition B consisted of therapeutic singing of familiar songs. Two observers took data on individuals, in one-minute intervals, during sessions and for the half-hour immediately following sessions, utilizing a behavioral checklist. It was hypothesized that: (1) Frequencies of physical and social behaviors exhibited during and/or immediately following therapeutic group singing sessions would be significantly different than discussion sessions at the .05 level of confidence. (2) The amount of vocal/verbal participation would be significantly higher in therapeutic group singing sessions than in discussion sessions at the .05 level of confidence. (3) Group singing therapy would have a significant effect on the frequencies of physical and social behaviors exhibited after the therapeutic session at the .05 level of confidence. Data were analyzed using an analysis of variance and a Newman-Keuls test. All hypotheses were met to some extent. The first hypothesis was met by behaviors of "sitting" (p < .026) and "walking with others" (p < .026) indicating a possible increase in social behavior following treatment sessions. The second hypothesis was met (p < .0051) indicating higher verbal/vocal participation in therapeutic group singing sessions than discussion sessions. The third hypothesis was met by the behavior of "walking with others" (p < .026) indicating an interaction effect of therapeutic group singing sessionsand behaviors observed after sessions. Results indicated that both group singing therapy and discussionsessions had an effect on the following behaviors after sessions: sitting, standing still, walking alone, door closed, walking with others, watches the activities of others, smiles, touches other patients, talks/makes vocalizations to self, and watches TV with others. In spite of the minimal support for the first and third hypotheses, patients seemed to prefer group singing therapy, as paticipation and attendance were significantly higher in treatment sessions. Further research might attempt to measure the duration of attendance in treatment sessions. Furtermore, a definite baseline might be obtained by replicating this study with an experimental and control group or by obtaining extensive data on subjects in their day-to-day behaviors before sessions begin and then comparing this to their day-today behaviors after sessions take place.
Keyword(s): group-singing, music-therapy, behavior, alzheimer's-disease, familiar, music.