Further evidence that singing fosters mental health and wellbeing: the West Kent and Medway project

Date13 February 2017
Published date13 February 2017
AuthorStephen Clift,Sharon Manship,Lizzi Stephens
Further evidence that singing fosters
mental health and wellbeing: the
West Kent and Medway project
Stephen Clift, Sharon Manship and Lizzi Stephens
Purpose Clift and Morrison (2011) report that weekly singing over eight months for people with enduring
mental health issues led to clinically important reductions in mental distress. The purpose of this paper is to
test the robustness of the earlier findings.
Design/methodology/approach Four community singing groups for people with mental health issues ran
weekly from November 2014 to the end of 2015. Evaluation place over a six-month period using two
validated questionnaires: the short Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (CORE-10) questionnaire, and the
Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS).
Findings In all, 26 participants completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires. CORE-10 scores were
significantly reduced, and WEMWBS scores significantly increased. Comparisons with the earlier study found
a similar pattern of improvements on CORE items that are part of the problemssub-scale in the full CORE
questionnaire. There was also evidence from both studies of participants showing clinically important
improvements in CORE-10 scores.
Research limitations/implications The main limitations of the study are a small sample sizeand the lack
of a randomised control group.
Originality/value No attempts have been made previously to directly test the transferability of a singing for
health model to a new geographical area and to evaluate outcomes using the same validated measure.
Keywords Mental wellbeing, Mental distress, CORE-10, Group singing, WEMWBS
Paper type Research paper
Since 2000, there has been considerable growth of scientific interest in singing, wellbeing and
health (Clift, 2011; Clift et al., 2015). This has been sufficient to support several systematic
reviews with attention to specific populations or health outcomes: Clark and Harding (2012)
singing as a therapeutic intervention, Clements-Cortes (2015) older people, Gick and Nicol
(2016) respiratory function, Reagon et al. (2016) health-related quality of life outcomes, and
Barnish et al. (2016) people with Parkinsons. Clift et al. (2016) review previous reviews and
highlight a general consensus on the health and wellbeing value of singing. However, most
studies to date have a variety of methodological weaknesses and further, larger-scale and better
controlled studies, utilising validated health outcome measures, are needed.
Principal benefits from group singing, identified from the earliest studies, are a more positive mood
and increase in psychological and social wellbeing. These effects, observable even after a single
singing session and strengthening over time, have been reported in studies of: established choirs
(Beck et al., 2000; Clift and Hancox, 2001, 2011; Kreutz et al., 2004), women in prison (Silber, 2005),
homeless people (Bailey and Davidson, 2005), older people in care settings (Skingley and Bungay,
2010; Bungay et al., 2010; Skingley and Vella-Burrows, 2010), people experiencing chronic pain
(Hopper et al., 2016), people with COPD (Morrison et al., 2013; Skingley et al., 2014), and people
in choirs for people affected by cancer (Fancourt et al., 2016). A definitive demonstration of
The authors would like to thank
Kent and Medway Clinical
Commissioning Groups for the
funding to support this project and
the evaluation. The authors would
also like to thank Vicky Tovey,
Ivan Rudd and Jess Mookherjee
from the Kent County Council
(KCC) Public Health team for their
advice and guidance. For further
details of acknowledgements see
Clift et al. (2015).
Stephen Clift is a Professor of
Health Education and
Sharon Manship is a Research
Assistant, both at the Sidney
De Haan Research Centre for
Arts and Health, Canterbury
Christ Church University,
Folkestone, UK.
Lizzi Stephens is based at the
Sidney De Haan Research
Centre for Arts and Health,
Canterbury Christ Church
University, Folkestone, UK.
DOI 10.1108/MHSI-11-2016-0034 VOL. 21 NO. 1 2017, pp. 53-62, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308
PAG E 53

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