In recent years, several researchers have focused on how the body and mind respond to music, exploring ways to use it in the world of care. In the article Singing for Lung Health: a systematic review of the literature and consensus statement, Lewis and colleagues gather research that suggests that singing is therapeutic, especially for people living with a long-term lung condition.
As summarised by the British Lung Foundation, the act of singing in groups for therapeutic purposes can:
- Improve quality of life and reduce loneliness and social isolation;
- Help improve posture and increase the strength of the voice;
- Reduce the feeling of being short of breath and to better control breathing by strengthening the respiratory muscles.
In the UK, there is growing interest in this approach, called Singing for Lung Health, and the experience of singing groups for people with lung problems is well established.
As reported by Lewis and colleagues, a consensus group has been convened to discuss specific issues, such as the characteristics that make the SLH approach different from other forms of group singing; a systematic review of the evidence base; the gaps in this evidence base; the definition of measures needed to assess individual responses to the SLH approach and the quality of programmes; and the basic training, experience and skills required of those who must lead singing groups following this approach to provide quality programmes.
Although more in-depth studies are needed, quantitative data from the work of the consensus group suggest that singing has the potential to improve the quality of life and health of people with lung disease, particularly with regard to physical health and anxiety levels, while qualitative data indicate that singing is certainly a pleasant experience for patients, who report that they are better able to cope with their health condition.