Sing with Us
The Psychosocial and Psychobiological Impact of Singing in Cancer Care
Sing with Us explored whether singing affects mental health, wellbeing, quality of life, and social support for people affected by cancer.
There is growing evidence of the effects of psychosocial interventions on the health and wellbeing of patients, carers, and relatives affected by cancer. Over the last 15 years, studies have demonstrated the impact of interventions including meditation, exercise, relaxation sessions, and emotional expression on mental health, quality of life, social resilience, and biomarkers including pro-inflammatory cytokines, stress hormones, growth factors, and cell response.
Sing with Us explored the psychosocial and psychobiological impact of singing in choirs led by the charity Tenovus Cancer Care. Tenovus established a large-scale arts-in-health programme in 2010 and previous research connected to the programme revealed improvements in pain, vitality, social function, depression, and overall mental health for those who took part. Working in partnership with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the London Cancer Alliance, Sing with Us extended the understanding of the benefits of singing in choirs by examining changes in biomarkers, including stress hormones (glucocorticoids), proteins, and receptors of the immune system.
A pilot study with 193 participants revealed that a single choir session reduced stress hormones and increased levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer. The longitudinal aspect of the study showed that singing significantly decreased anxiety and increased wellbeing for carers and improved self-efficacy and self-esteem for those who had been bereaved. Qualitative data explored the mechanisms behind these effects, highlighting building resilience and meeting existential changes as key components of what enabled singing to result in these benefits.
Watch the Tenovus Cancer Care video to meet some of the London choir members.
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