Strassel et al. (2011) A Systematic Review of the Evidence for the Effectiveness of Dance Therapy

literature type:

journal article


Juliane K. Strassel, Daniel C. Cherkin, Lotte Steuten, Karen J. Sherman, and Hubertus J.M. Vrijhoef. Alternative Therapies Health Medicine. 2011; Vol. 17, No. 3: pp 50-59.


Dance therapy uses psychotherapeutic movement to support the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social integration of a person. Dance therapy may be of value for people with developmental, medical, social, physical, or psychological impairments.

To evaluate the hypothesis that dance therapy has therapeutic benefits by systematically analyzing and summarizing the evidence.

Thirteen databases were searched for systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of dance therapy. The Overall Quality Assessment Questionnaire (OQAQ) was used to assess review quality, and RCT quality was assessed using the Jadad Scale.

Eight reviews and 18 RCTs about the effectiveness of dance therapy met our inclusion criteria. According to the OQAQ seven of the eight reviews were of poor methodological quality. The quality of the RCTs ranged from poor to good. In most cases, the reviews and trials reported positive benefits related to improvements in quality of life, self-esteem, or coping with a disease.

Most studies have found therapeutic benefits of dance therapy, although these results are based on generally poor-quality evidence. Dance therapy should be considered as a potentially relevant add-on therapy for a variety of conditions that do not respond well to conventional medical treatments. Well-performed RCTs and observational studies are highly recommended to determine the real value of dance therapy.


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