We’re incredibly proud of our Sing with Us choirs, which every week support thousands of people affected by cancer through the power of song.
Since setting up our first choir in 2010, we’ve wanted to find out more about the benefits of singing for people affected by cancer. Our choir members have always told us that singing and being a member of the choir makes them feel better, but we wanted to understand the science behind it.
Our previous research has looked at qualitative, quantitative and biological data, but we wanted to know more about the biology behind what people were telling us, and build on our previous research study which looked at biomarkers (More than Singing – Part 1).
In 2016 we funded Dr Daisy Fancourt, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, to carry out a new research project. This project (More than Singing – Part 2) was conducted in partnership between the Royal Marsden Hospital, Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music, and recruited people to take part in two new choirs in London, as well as a non-singing group set up for comparison.
We were particularly interested in seeing what benefit singing in a choir had over a six-month period, on mental health and wellbeing.
One of the main findings focussed on carers. We found that over 24 weeks they had significant reductions in their levels of anxiety, especially when compared with the non-singing (control) group. Alongside that we also saw an improvement in their levels of wellbeing.
We also found that singing and being part of the choirs particularly helped people that had low levels of mental health and wellbeing at the start of the study. In other words, the people who needed to benefit the most, did.
The research also involved people who had been recently bereaved to try to understand what, if any, benefits singing in a choir could bring and why this occurred. The results showed people who sang in the choir benefitted from more consistent levels of mental health when compared to the group who did no singing.
People who did not take part in the choirs had an increase in their levels of depression throughout the study, alongside more volatile levels of wellbeing. We found choirs provided a consistency of mental health.