A study looking at choir singing as a way to improve people’s wellbeing

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This study looked at the benefit of taking part in a choir for people with cancer, and those affected by cancer in some way.

It was open for people to join from 2016 to 2017, and several articles have been published in medical journals.

More about this trial

When you have cancer, you may have problems related to the cancer or its treatment. This can impact on your personal wellbeing.

When this trial was done, we already knew from research that singing can: 

  • improve mood
  • reduce the amount of stress hormones Open a glossary item
  • improve the immune system Open a glossary item

Researchers in this study wanted to find out if singing in a choir can improve the wellbeing of people with cancer, or those who have been affected by cancer.

Summary of results

The research team found that singing in a choir could help improve the mental health of people with cancer or those affected by cancer.

About this study
This study was for people who:

  • had been diagnosed with cancer
  • had lost loved ones
  • were, or had been, caring for someone with cancer
  • were working with people with cancer

Some people taking part joined weekly choir sessions, and some people didn’t. They filled out questionnaires about their mental health and well being before, during and after the choir sessions. And the research team interviewed some people to find out more about how joining a choir had affected them.

The people taking part found that the weekly choir sessions were a positive experience where they could get extra support.

The main findings were that joining a choir could improve people’s:

  • ability to cope
  • self esteem 
  • self belief
  • anxiety levels
  • general mental health

The research team concluded that singing as part of a choir could help improve the mental health and well being of people with cancer, or those affected by cancer.

There is more information about this research in the references below. 

Please note, these articles have been written for the medical and research community. They may not be in plain English.

How does the process of group singing impact on people affected by cancer? A grounded theory study.
K Warren, and others
BMJ Open, 2019. Volume 9, Issue 1, Article e023261

Group singing in bereavement: effects on mental health, self-efficacy, self-esteem and well-being
D Fancourt and others
MJ Supportive & Palliative Care online, 2019. Article 2018-001642 

The experience and perceived impact of group singing for men living with cancer: A phenomenological study 
K Warren and others
Psychology of Music, 2019. Volume 47, Issue 6, pages 874 – 889.

Psychosocial singing interventions for the mental health and well-being of family carers of patients with cancer: results from a longitudinal controlled study
D Fancourt and others
BMJ Open, 2019. Volume 9, Issue 8, pages, Article e026995.

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on the information in the published articles above, which have been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item). We have not analysed the data ourselves. As far as we are aware, the links we list above are active and the articles are free and available to view.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Daisy Fancourt

Supported by

London Cancer Alliance (LCA)
Royal College of Music London
Imperial College London
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) 
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust 

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

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