Choir singing and health status in people affected by cancer

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Abstract

Cancer survival rates have improved dramatically over recent years, however, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) for many patients, survivors and their families remains low even after successful treatment. This mixed-methods observational study explored the effects of participation in community choirs on HRQoL in individuals who have had cancer (patients) or have been affected by cancer (non-patients). This included a longitudinal analysis of choristers commencing the Tenovus Cancer Care “Sing with Us” choirs across Wales and a series of semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Participants completed the Short-form 36 and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale on commencement of the choir and 3 and 6 months later. On joining the choir, several domains of the SF36 were lower, indicating worse HRQoL and greater depression in patients than non-patients (p < .05). In patients, choir participation improved vitality, overall mental health and anxiety. In non-patients, choir participation improved anxiety (p < .05). Participants experienced the choirs as both an uplifting musical activity and a supportive community group. The results support the provision of a spectrum of support options to meet the different needs and preferences of people affected by cancer.

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