Researchers from Canterbury Christ Church University’s Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health will work with Medway Community Healthcare Respiratory Team and academics from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, on this new project and are seeking local residents to take part.
According to the British Lung Foundation, COPD is one of the leading causes of ill-health and mortality in the UK.
An estimated 1.2 million people are living with diagnosed COPD, making it the second most common lung disease in the UK, after asthma. Around 2% of the whole population, and 4.5% of all people aged over 40, live with diagnosed COPD. Together with lung cancer and pneumonia, COPD is one of the three leading contributors to respiratory mortality. COPD is also a major cause of unplanned emergency admissions to hospital at a considerable cost to the NHS.
The Medway study will be a randomised controlled trial, and the research team is looking for 100 participants, half of whom would join a weekly singing group meeting for ten weeks, and half would be a comparison group who do not sing. After the project finishes, members of the group who did not sing will be offered the opportunity to follow the same singing programme.
"COPD is a major health issue in the UK, affecting many people. Standard medical treatments can help ease the symptoms but there is no cure for this condition.
"Difficulties with breathing can also lead people to feel anxious and depressed and feel socially isolated. An activity like regular group singing may help to address psychological and social consequences of the illness and may help people to better manage their breathing difficulties."
Chris Gedge, Head of Research for Medway Community Healthcare said: “Medway Community Healthcare Respiratory Team is delighted to be working with researchers from Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent on this innovative and exciting project. We will be doing everything we can to encourage patients with COPD in our care across Medway to take advantage of this opportunity to assess the possible benefits of singing for breathing difficulties.”
Dr John Dickinson, Head of the Exercise Respiratory Clinic at the University of Kent, added: “Our collaboration with Christ Church and Medway Community ealthcare provides a unique opportunity to use cutting edge scientific techniques to investigate the impact of singing of COPD lung function, physical capacity and breathing pattern.”
The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health and the University of Kent have previously collaborated on a study looking at the impact of singing on a group of people with COPD in Lambeth and Southwark, South London. Their findings showed that regular singing helped to improve the participants’ social and psychological wellbeing, as well helped to modify breathing patterns and reduce breathlessness.
Laura, a participant from the Streatham Library singing group, said of taking part in the project: “I never thought I would be able to do something like this. Even just catching a bus, it felt as if my heart was popping and that I would faint. Now I know how to breathe through it. It has been a tremendous help.”
People with COPD in Medway, interested to take part, can obtain further details from Di White, Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health on 07515 191 712 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.