Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders




School of Medical and Health Sciences




Open access publishing facilitated by Curtin University, as part of the Wiley - Curtin University agreement via the Council of Australian University Librarians


Hersh, D., Kong, S. J., & Smith, J. (2023). It's quite good fun: A qualitative study of a singing/songwriting programme for people with Parkinson's disease and their spouses. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 58(6), 2103-2116.


Background: : Group singing for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) is an established intervention not only to improve voice and speech difficulties but also for emotional and social benefit. Less is known about the experiences of group singing on the couple—the person with PD and their spouse or partner together—and studies have not specifically tracked impact through time or in combination with songwriting. Aims: : To understand the impact of group singing/songwriting on couples (participants with PD and their spouses) to unpack whether this broader view might help explain why such interventions are reported as beneficial. Using a trajectory approach, a form of longitudinal research and focused ethnography, the research sought a deeper appreciation of participation through time for the couple in a singing/songwriting group. Methods & Procedures: : Four couples attending a singing/songwriting programme were observed for 10 weeks, and interviewed formally and informally weekly. Data were analysed thematically across-case through framework analysis but also within-case to explore the couples’ experiences and narratives over time. Outcomes & Results: : The theme of ‘improved relationships’ between the couples was new and extended previous studies’ findings of positivity, physical benefit, sense of self and social opportunity. The stories of each couple highlighted the importance of musical reminiscence and emotional respite, and demonstrated changes with time through the singing and songwriting group. Conclusions & Implications: : The benefits of offering singing/songwriting groups may be felt not only by participants with PD but also by their spouses/partners even if they choose not to attend themselves. Such benefits may include improved relationships related to the shared joy of music, musical reminiscence and emotional respite. The addition of songwriting encourages creativity and agency. A longitudinal trajectory approach is one way to appreciate how these benefits may unfold over time for participants. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: What is already known on the subject Group singing for people with PD has been shown to have physical, emotional and social benefits as measured on mainly pre-post-assessments of vocal, speech, respiratory function and quality of life questionnaires. What this study adds to the existing knowledge This study adds three new aspects: studying the benefits for the couple (both people with PD and their spouse/partner); taking an in-depth focused ethnographic approach over time to collect couples’ narratives and experiences; and exploring the potential for adding songwriting to the intervention. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? A qualitative trajectory approach may help clinicians understand why such interventions are experienced as beneficial. Clinicians running singing groups for people with PD should offer attendance to spouses/partners because of the potential for such groups to improve relationships and build new points of connection for the couple, as well as provide peer support for spouses. Songwriting is a useful addition for creativity, cognitive flexibility and self-expression.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.