The chronic breathlessness of COPD is physically limiting, socially isolating and associated with depression and anxiety. Pulmonary rehabilitation improves quality of life, exercise tolerance and breathlessness in patients with COPD. Adding to and sustaining these benefits are much needed topics of research. Singing has reported health benefits, and some data suggest beneficial effects on hyperinflation and mood in patients with COPD. Having established a free community-based singing group, Sing Your Lungs Out (SYLO), in Newtown, Wellington in 2014, we conducted qualitative and quantitative studies to evaluate the potential health benefits for patients with COPD who had previously completed a pulmonary rehabilitation programme. These studies have demonstrated that participation in a weekly community singing group is feasible for patients with COPD of varying severity, resulting in clinically important improvements in respiratory function and mood. Patients themselves reported enjoyment, purpose and connectedness. Therapeutic singing groups for COPD patients have now been established in Porirua, Masterton and Motueka using the SYLO-study model. A short documentary film has been made outlining the story of the Sing Your Lungs Out group. We hope this might encourage, inspire and inform other centres considering similar initiatives.
Comment: This community singing group is an example of a low-cost, community-based, patient-centred, non-pharmacological intervention for COPD.