A Systematic Review on the Effects of Group Singing on Persistent Pain in People with Long-term Health Conditions

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Irons, JY
Sheffield, D
Ballington, F
Stewart, DE
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Background and Objectives: Singing can have a range of health benefits; this paper reviews evidence of the effects of group singing for chronic pain in people with long‐term health conditions. Database and Data Treatment: We searched for published peer‐reviewed singing studies reporting pain measures (intensity, interference and depression) using major electronic databases (last search date 31/07/2018). After screening 123 full texts, 13 studies met the inclusion criteria: five RCTs, seven non‐RCTs and one qualitative study. Included studies were appraised using Downs and Black and CASP quality assessments. Results: Included studies reported differences in the type of singing intervention, long‐term condition and pain measures. Due to the high heterogeneity, we conducted a narrative review. There is a positive trend of singing interventions reducing pain intensity, but more equivocal support for reductions in pain interference and depression. Additionally, qualitative data synthesis identified three key linked and complementary themes: physical, psychological and social benefits. Conclusion: Group singing appears to have potential to reduce pain intensity, pain interference and depression; however, we conclude there is only partial support for singing on some pain outcomes based on the limited available evidence of varied quality. Given the positive findings of qualitative studies, this review recommends that practitioners are encouraged to continue this work. More studies of better quality are needed. Future studies should adopt more robust methodology and report their singing intervention in details. Group singing may be an effective and safe approach for reducing persistent pain and depression in people with long‐term health conditions.

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European Journal of Pain
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Irons, JY; Sheffield, D; Ballington, F; Stewart, DE, A Systematic Review on the Effects of Group Singing on Persistent Pain in People with Long-term Health Conditions., European Journal of Pain, 2019