Singing Therapy for Young People With Cystic Fibrosis: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study


  • J. Yoon Irons BA, Diplom (FH), RMT
  • Dianna T. Kenny BA, MA, DipEd, ATCL, PhD
  • Margaret McElrea BSc, CRFS, PhD
  • Anne B. Chang MBBS, FRACF, MPHTH, PhD



Singing is not merely a vocal expression but also a physical activity involving the lungs and respiratory muscles. The purpose of this study was to evaluate singing as an adjunct therapy for young people with cystic fibrosis (CF). In a randomized controlled study, 51 hospitalized children (mean age 1⁄4 11.6 years, 35% male) participated in either 8 singing or 8 recreational sessions. Respiratory muscle strength using maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressure (MIP and MEP, respectively), spirometry, and quality of life (QoL) were assessed at baseline (T1), postintervention (T2), and follow-up (T3). The singing group demonstrated statistically significant increases in MIP and MEP at T2 and T3, while no statistically significant changes were evident in the control group. In the QoL measurements, both groups showed improvement in some domains. The results indicate that singing has the potential to improve the respiratory status and QoL of young people with CF.

Author Biographies

J. Yoon Irons, BA, Diplom (FH), RMT

J. Yoon Irons, BA, Diplom (FH), RMT, is a qualified music therapist and singer and is undertaking PhD research studies at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Dianna T. Kenny, BA, MA, DipEd, ATCL, PhD

Dianna T. Kenny, BA, MA, DipEd, ATCL, PhD, is a professor of psychology and music, is the director of Australian Centre for Applied Research in Music Performance.

Margaret McElrea, BSc, CRFS, PhD

Margaret McElrea, BSc, CRFS, PhD, is a respiratory scientist and researcher at Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Anne B. Chang, MBBS, FRACF, MPHTH, PhD

Anne B. Chang, MBBS, FRACF, MPHTH, PhD, is a pediatric respiratory and sleep physician and has published numerous research papers in the field of pediatric medicine.




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