Acknowledging World COPD Day 2022

Wednesday 16th November 2022

Today, we are acknowledging World COPD Day.

‘World COPD Day, held annually on 16th November, is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease in collaboration with health care professionals and COPD patient groups throughout the world.’

To mark this important day, we’ve put together some information about COPD and singing for lung health:

  • Lung disease is currently the 3rd leading cause of death in the UK
  • In the UK a person dies every 5 minutes from a respiratory condition
  • 1 in 5 people in the UK will develop either Asthma or COPD during their lives

(Data from British Lung Foundation Website, 2016)

COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and causes obstructions in the airways, leading to a dysfunctional breathing pattern which is often termed ‘hyperventilation syndrome’

(Law et al, 2018)

Many COPD patients experience voice changes – a study found 50% of participants experienced dysphonia and vocal quality production, which can affect quality of life.

(El-Maghraby A, Mohamed E, 2014; Shastry et al, 2014; Cassiani et al, 2013)

How can singing help people with COPD?

  • Encouraging optimal use of respiratory muscles, supporting the breath out (expiration)
  • Appropriate use of SOVTEs – improving dysphonia
  • Learning breath control and management

(Macdonald et al, 2012; Hassan, 2018; Lewis et al, 2016)

Singing for Lung Health (SLH) as a targeted approach

SLH provides physical, psychological and social benefits and presents an opportunity for breathing patterns to be consciously modified.

(Lewis et al, 2016)

Singing for Lung Health requires leaders to be skilled in delivering breath and vocal exercises which are aligned with that of respiratory and speech and language therapists.

(Kaasgaad et al, 2020; Titze 2006)

Singing for Lung Health is not inferior to standard physical exercise training. Longer term and larger studies are needed, including examining health economics and reproducibility.

(Kaasgaad et al, 2022)



Cassiani, R. A., Aguiar-Ricz, L., Santos, C. M., Martinez, J. A. B., & Dantas, R. O. (2013) Glottal competence in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. ACR, 18(3), 149-54

El-Maghraby, A., Mohamed, E. (2014) Voice changes in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis. Volume 63, Issue 3, p. 561-567

Hassan, M.M., Hussein, M.T., Emam, A.M., Rashad, U.M., Rezk, I., Awad, A.H. (2018) Is insufficient pulmonary air support the cause of dysphonia in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? Auris Nasus Larynx. 45;4 p. 807-814

Kaasgaard, M., Andersen, I.C., Rasmussen, D.B., et al (2020) Heterogeneity in Danish lung choirs and their singing leaders: delivery, approach, and experiences: a survey-based study. BMJ Open.10:e041700

Kaasgaard M, Rasmussen DB, Andreasson KH, Hilberg O, Løkke A, Vuust P, Bodtger U. (2022) Use of Singing for Lung Health as an alternative training modality within pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD: a randomised controlled trial. Eur Respir J. 19;59(5):2101142

Law, N., Ruane, L.E., Low, K., Hamza, K., Bardin, P.G. (2018) Dysfunctional breathing is more frequent in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than in asthma and in health. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. Volume 247, P. 20-23

Lewis, A., Cave, P., Stern, M. et al. (2016) Singing for Lung Health—a systematic review of the literature and consensus statement. npj Prim Care Resp Med 26, 16080

Macdonald, I., Rubin, J.S., Blake, E., Hirani, S., Epstein, R. (2012) An investigation of abdominal muscle recruitment for sustained phonation in 25 healthy singers. Journal of Voice. 26(6), 815.e9-815.e16

Shastry, A., Balasubramanium, R.K., & Acharya, P. (2014) Voice Analysis in Individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. International Journal of Phonosurgery & Laryngology. 5. 45-49

Titze, I.R (2006) Voice training and therapy with a semi-occluded vocal tract: rationale and scientific underpinnings. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 49:448–59

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