The effect of music-based interventions on autistic symptoms: A meta-analysis

Kit Ying Yvonne FU

Research output: ThesisHonours Projects (HP)


Introduction: Patients diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face an array of challenges and disabilities in the daily life, in particular obstacles of social communication and interaction. In order to assist ASD individuals solving these challenges, different treatments were arisen in clinical, psychological and even educational context. Even though music therapy is one of the popular used strategies at present, music-based interventions can no longer limited to registered music therapist and the methods; other personnel with trained music skills can also be involved with design of activities, providing higher flexibility for both ASD patients and operators. Only one prior meta-analysis (Whipple, 2004) was done on the effectiveness of music-based interventions to the core autistic symptoms of patients with ASD. Nonetheless, the quality of past meta-analysis on same topic retained low quality due to the inclusion of non-peer-reviewed thesis of studies without any control group. At the current time, individual research showed different results and conclusion on effects of music-based intervention upon ASD patients. Hence, the purpose of current meta-analysis was to compare and investigate the effectiveness of music-based interventions to social communication performance of patients with ASD from updated studies.
Methods: Literatures were screened systematically in PubMed and Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) in different Boolean phrases. The literatures on traditional music therapy delivered by registered music therapist or being review articles generally without any control group would be excluded. After screening and selection, the studies with given details of interventions that fit to the inclusion criteria of meta-analysis in studying the effects of music-based intervention towards improvements of measure outcomes would undergo further analysis.
Results: Four studies were included. Analysis in data yielded the effect size of from fixed-effect mode as (Hedge’s g = 0.67, CI = (0.04, 1.29), Z = 3.40 and P = 0.001). Due to small sample number of includes trials, fixed-effect model was adopted for data analysis in this meta-analysis. The meta-analysis of included studies suggested positive effects towards social communication skills of ASD children (n = 60) receiving music-based intervention compared to control group (n = 54).
Conclusions: Findings manifested that music-based intervention may be an effective tool to improve social communication skills of ASD children. Future research of the field is still necessary with different ages groups and outcomes measures of ASD patients to provide higher evidence-based information.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationBachelor of Education (Honours)
  • LAU, Kwok Wai 劉國威, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Honours Project (HP)
  • Bachelor of Education (Honours) (Music) (Five-year Full-time)
  • Programme code: A5B064
  • Course code: SED4042


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