Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Singing classes for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a randomized controlled trial

Victoria M Lord, Victoria J Hume, Julia L Kelly, Phoene Cave, Judith Silver, Maya Waldman, Chris White, Cayley Smith, Rebecca Tanner, Melissa Sanchez, William D-C Man, Michael I Polkey and Nicholas S Hopkinson*

Author affiliations

NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College, Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NP, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2012, 12:69  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-12-69

Published: 13 November 2012



There is some evidence that singing lessons may be of benefit to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is not clear how much of this benefit is specific to singing and how much relates to the classes being a group activity that addresses social isolation.


Patients were randomised to either singing classes or a film club for eight weeks. Response was assessed quantitatively through health status questionnaires, measures of breathing control, exercise capacity and physical activity and qualitatively, through structured interviews with a clinical psychologist.


The singing group (n=13 mean(SD) FEV1 44.4(14.4)% predicted) and film group (n=11 FEV1 63.5(25.5)%predicted) did not differ significantly at baseline. There was a significant difference between the response of the physical component score of the SF-36, favouring the singing group +12.9(19.0) vs -0.25(11.9) (p=0.02), but no difference in response of the mental component score of the SF-36, breathing control measures, exercise capacity or daily physical activity. In the qualitative element, positive effects on physical well-being were reported in the singing group but not the film group.


Singing classes have an impact on health status distinct from that achieved simply by taking part in a group activity.

Trials registration

Registration Current Controlled Trials - ISRCTN17544114

COPD; Singing; Qualitative; Randomised controlled trial; Rehabilitation