Posted on by Arts Health Foundation
Singing classes may help people suffering from lung disease breathe a little easier- respiratory experts at Royal Brompton Hospital in the United Kingdom have recently published a paper in the BMC Pulmonary Medicine Journal. Exploring how singing classes can improve quality of life and reduce anxiety in patients with respiratory diseases, in particular COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
People suffering from COPD often experience shortness of breath. Depending on the extent of COPD- breathlessness can occur during physical exertion or even while resting. The characteristic breathing patterns are caused by the inability to inhale or expel air from their lungs- which leads patients to adopt higher operating lung volumes, known as dynamic hyperinflation.
Research has been conducted into altered patterns of breathing as a way to improve COPD symptoms. Previous studies have shown limitations in physiotherapy approaches that focus attention on breathing pattern- as this can emphasise awareness of respiratory limitation and increase anxiety.
The respiratory experts at Royal Brompton Hospital believe singing is a viable alternative- as singing requires developing skills in controlling posture and breath. They conducted a six week course of twice weekly singing classes with 28 COPD patients and a separate control group without COPD. The experience of singing was measured through interviews with a psychologist. In addition, they surveyed patients with chronic respiratory conditions who participated in a series of open singing workshops.
Within this study singing many positive effects were reported within the COPD group themes included:
- Improved physical sensation while breathing
- Greater sense of general well-being
- Community and social support
- Sense of achievement and self efficacy
Participants in open workshops completed a questionnaire and 96% rated the workshops as “very enjoyable” and 98% thought the workshop had taught them something about breathing in a different way. While 81% of attendees felt a “marked physical difference” after the workshop.
This study indicates how singing classes can improve quality of life in people with respiratory diseases. In the singing classes anxiety was markedly reduced in participants with respiratory disease and all reported it as a very positive experience.