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Exploring the perceived health benefits of singing in a choir: an international cross-sectional mixed-methods study

Hilary Moss, Julie Lynch, Jessica O'Donoghue
Perspectives in Public Health 2018, 138 (3): 160-168
29137545

AIM: This mixed-methods exploratory study investigates the perceived health benefits of singing in a choir from an international sample of choristers.

METHOD: An online questionnaire including demographic information, 28 quantitative statements and two qualitative questions relating to the perceived health benefits of singing in a choir was distributed via email and social media over a period of 4 months to a sample of 1,779 choristers. Basic descriptives and comparisons between subgroups of the sample are presented along with thematic analysis of qualitative comments.

RESULTS: Basic descriptives suggest an overwhelmingly positive response. Females scored significantly higher than males on physical benefits, social benefits and emotional benefits. Professional singers reported significantly more physical, social and spiritual benefits than amateur singers. Bias may be present in these findings as the results were entirely self-reported by people who already sing in choirs. Qualitative thematic analysis identified six key themes which may counter this bias by providing deeper understanding of the perceived benefits for choir singers. These include social connection, physical and physiological benefits (specifically respiratory health), cognitive stimulation, mental health, enjoyment and transcendence.

CONCLUSION: Choral singing elicits a positive response in the chorister across a plethora of domains. This research confirms previous findings on the health benefits of singing but offers evidence from the largest sample of singers to date. However, results are based on self-perceptions of choristers, and findings are, therefore, limited. Results may be used as a base on which to develop further research in this area. It also provides confirmatory evidence to support choral singing as a means of improving wellbeing in many populations, including but not limited to workplaces, schools, nursing homes, communities and churches.

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