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History and achievements of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health

Who was Sidney De Haan?

The Centre was founded in 2005, and named in memory of Sidney De Haan, founder of the Saga group of companies. Towards the end of his life, Sidney was diagnosed with vascular dementia. His family noticed that attending concerts and music events had a positive effect on Sidney’s wellbeing, and as a result his son Roger De Haan was keen to support initiatives that explored the positive benefits of music and the arts for wellbeing. An approach to him from Grenville Hancox and Stephen Clift, led to the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust providing generous core funding for the Centre until 2012.

Principal achievements of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre

The earliest systematic review of research on singing and health (2008) with subsequent updates with increased focus and sophistication (2010), a comprehensive review of the value of singing for older people (2017), and a systematic review (2016) and cochrane review on singing and copd (2017).

The largest international survey undertaken so far with members of choral societies and choirs exploring issues of wellbeing and health (2008). Findings showed that singers with prior or existing health issues were more likely to acknowledge the benefits of singing.

 The first randomised controlled trial of community singing with older people demonstrating significant improvements in mental health related quality of life, which were sustained three months after the singing groups ended.


Establishing and evaluating a network of community singing groups for participants with mental health challenges in East Kent (2009-10), with replication in West Kent and Medway (2014-16), showing positive benefits on a widely used standardised measure of mental distress.

Establishing and evaluating a network of community singing groups for patients with copd in East Kent (2011-12), with a replication in Lambeth and Southwark (2015-16), showing positive outcomes for personal and social wellbeing and self-management of this condition.

The first surveys of: children singing as part of the Young Voices Programme; women singing in choirs as part of the Military Wives Choirs Foundation, and choirs participating in the 2014 National Choir of the Year Competition. These studies offer qualifications to a too easy acceptance that group singing is invariably a positive experience.

In 2107, in conjunction with the Canterbury Cantata Trust, an international network of partners was established to promote the development of new singing groups for people with Parkinson’s and evaluate their benefits.

Details of links with Griffiths University in Brisbane Australia





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Last edited: 21/02/2020 15:31:00