University of Tasmania

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Assessment of the effects of singing on respiratory function and wellbeing in people with dementia

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 17:47 authored by Anne-Marie ForbesAnne-Marie Forbes, Anthea Vreugdenhil, Lynette GoldbergLynette Goldberg, Wood-Baker, R, Morse, A

The positive benefits of group singing for physical and mental health and perceived wellbeing in the general population are drawing increased attention from researchers (Stewart & Lonsdale 2016, Clift et al 2016). Investigations of the benefits of singing have revealed improvements in the immune system of people with cancer (Fancourt et al 2016) and benefits to quality of life and respiratory function in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Bonilha et al 2009) and quadriplegia (Tamplin et al 2013). People with dementia, a growing international health issue, are vulnerable to respiratory difficulties and multiple medical conditions, adversely affecting their quality of life (Fu et al. 2004, van der Steen et al. 2004).

This presentation reports on the outcomes of a study conducted in residential facilities of Aged Care Deloraine in NW Tasmania,researching the efficacy of methods to assess the impact of group singing to improve respiratory function and well-being for people with dementia, reducing the burden on care providers, and potentially decreasing care costs. Spirometry has been standard but clinicians and researchers have also employed Respiratory Inductance Plethysmography (RIP), and even party blowers (Higashijima and Shiozu 2015), to measure respiratory function of people with mild to moderate dementia

An eight-week group singing program, integrating the use of kazoos, was devised and administered in 2017 at Aged Care Deloraine by the music therapist in our team. We recruited 22 volunteer participants with mild to moderate cognitive impairment for the research study. At the commencement of the program, and again at its conclusion, our team conducted measures of respiratory function and well-being. We employed spirometry, Forced Oscillatory Technique (FOT) and Respiratory Inductance Plethysmography (RIP) as measures of respiratory function and used the kazoos to encourage controlled exhalation. We administered a quality of life survey with Australian norms for people with dementia (Euro-Qol-5 Dimension) to measure self perceptions of well-being.

The presentation will report the comparative efficacy of respiratory testing methods used in the study, and discuss issues of compliance identified with this cohort. Novel measures we employed, such as the use of kazoos and a social setting for testing, are discussed and recommendations made regarding quality of life and respiratory function assessments for future singing-based interventions for people with dementia.


Publication title

5th International Conference of the International Association for Music and Medicine: Final Program and Abstract Book




School of Creative Arts and Media


International Association for Music and Medicine

Place of publication


Event title

5th International Conference of the International Association for Music and Medicine

Event Venue

Barcelona Spain

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Health status (incl. wellbeing); Health related to ageing

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