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Publication Detail
Moving Singing for Lung Health online: experience from a randomised controlled trial
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Philip KEJ, Lewis A, Jeffery E, Buttery S, Cave P, Cristiano D, Lound A, Taylor K, Man WD-C, Fancourt D, Polkey M, Hopkinson N
  • Publication date:
  • Status:


Singing for Lung Health (SLH) is a popular arts-in-health activity for people with long-term respiratory conditions, which participants report provides biopsychosocial benefits, however research on impact is limited. The ‘SHIELD trial’, a randomised controlled, single (assessor) blind, trial of 12 weeks SLH vs usual care for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (n=120) was set-up to help to address this. The first group started face-to-face (5 sessions) before changing to online delivery (7 sessions) due to COVID-19 related physical distancing measures. As such, the experience of this group is here reported as a pilot study to inform further research in this area.


We conducted semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis regarding barriers, facilitators and key considerations regarding transitioning from face-to-face to online delivery. Pilot quantitative outcomes include attendance, pre and post measures of quality of life and disease impact (SF-36, CAT score), breathlessness (MRC breathlessness scale, Dyspnoea-12), depression (PHQ9), anxiety (GAD-7), balance confidence (ABC scale) and physical activity (clinical visit PROactive physical activity in COPD tool, combining subjective rating and actigraphy).


Attendance was 69% overall, (90% of the face-to-face sessions, 53% online sessions). Analysis of semi-structured interviews identified three themes regarding participation in SLH delivered face-to-face and online, these where 1) perceived benefits; 2) digital barriers (online); 3) digital facilitators (online). Findings were summarised into key considerations for optimising transitioning singing groups from face-to-face to online delivery. Pilot quantitative data suggested possible improvements in depression (treatment effect −4.78, p= 0.0487, MCID 5) balance confidence (treatment effect +17.21, p=0.0383, MCID 14.2), and anxiety (treatment effect −2.22, p=0.0659, MCID 2).


This study identifies key considerations regarding the adaptation of SLH from face-to-face to online delivery. Pilot data suggest online group singing for people with COPD may deliver benefits related to reducing depression and anxiety, and improved balance confidence.


What is the key question?

Can Singing for Lung Health (SLH) be delivered online for people with COPD? And if so, what are the practical issues and how does the experience compare with face-to-face participation?

What is the bottom line?

SLH appears safe and enjoyable both face-to-face and online. Access barriers for online sessions included digital access and literacy. However increasing access to those previous unable to physically access sessions is also important. In this pilot, depression, anxiety and balance confidence appear to show improvements related to participation in a SLH group that transitioned from face-to-face to online delivery.

Why read on?

To our knowledge this is the first study to assess health impacts of online group singing sessions. Given the physical distancing measures required by the response to COVID-19, there is a need for singing groups and other similar interventions to be delivered online such as pulmonary rehabilitation. This study helps to inform this and future research in the area.
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