Moving singing for lung health online in response to COVID-19: experience from a randomised controlled trial.
BMJ open respiratory research. 2020;(1)
INTRODUCTION Singing for lung health (SLH) is a popular arts-in-health activity for people with long-term respiratory conditions. Participants report biopsychosocial benefits, however, research on impact is limited. The 'SLH: Improving Experiences of Lung Disease trial', a randomised controlled, single (assessor) blind, trial of 12 weeks SLH versus usual care for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (n=120) was setup to help to address this. The first group (n=18, nine singing and nine controls) started face-to-face (five sessions) before changing to online delivery (seven sessions) due to COVID-19-related physical distancing measures. As such, the experience of this group is here reported as a pilot study to inform further research in this area. METHODS We conducted semistructured interviews and thematic analysis regarding barriers, facilitators and key considerations for transitioning from face-to-face to online delivery. Pilot quantitative outcomes include attendance, premeasures and postmeasures of quality of life and disease impact (Short Form 36 Health Survey, COPD Assessment Test score), breathlessness (Medical Research Council breathlessness scale, Dyspnoea-12), depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9, PHQ-9), anxiety (Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7), balance confidence (Activity specific Balance Confidence, ABC scale) and physical activity (clinical visit PROactive physical activity in COPD tool, combining subjective rating and actigraphy). RESULTS Attendance was 69% overall, (90% of the face-to-face sessions, 53% online sessions). Analysis of semistructured interviews identified three themes regarding participation in SLH delivered face to face and online, these where (1) perceived benefits; (2) digital barriers (online) and (3) digital facilitators (online). Findings were summarised into key considerations for optimising transitioning singing groups from face-to-face to online delivery. Pilot quantitative data suggested possible improvements in depression (treatment effect -4.78 PHQ-9 points, p<0.05, MCID 5) and balance confidence (treatment effect +17.21 ABC scale points, p=0.04, MCID 14.2). DISCUSSION This study identifies key considerations regarding the adaptation of SLH from face-to-face to online delivery. Pilot data suggest online group singing for people with COPD may deliver benefits related to reducing depression and improved balance confidence.