'Stroke a Chord': the effect of singing in a community choir on mood and social engagement for people living with aphasia following a stroke

NeuroRehabilitation. 2013;32(4):929-41. doi: 10.3233/NRE-130916.


Background: Communication deficits resulting from aphasia can negatively impact stroke survivors' relationships and social participation. Despite their difficulties, singing is accessible and enjoyable for many people with aphasia.

Objectives: To explore the effects of group singing for people with aphasia.

Methods: A community choir was established and facilitated by a neurologic music therapist. Mood (General Health Questionnaire-12; Visual Analogue Mood Scale), communication, cognition and global functioning (Stroke Impact Scale-3) and social functioning (Sense of Belonging Instrument) were measured before, and at 12-weeks and 20-weeks after joining the choir. Three choir members and five caregivers also completed semi-structured interviews about their experience of the choir.

Results: Baselines measures were collected for 13 participants with aphasia. Prior to joining the choir, participants had higher levels of negative mood symptoms and poorer subjective sense of belonging compared to Australian general population samples. Results from the GHQ-12 suggested a trend towards reduction of psychological distress after participating in the choir. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed five common themes: increased confidence, peer support, enhanced mood, increased motivation, and changes to communication.

Conclusion: The strength of findings was limited by the number of participants and lack of a control group, however clear benefits of choir participation were demonstrated. Preliminary findings were encouraging and warrant further rigorous investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aphasia / etiology
  • Aphasia / physiopathology
  • Aphasia / psychology
  • Aphasia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music Therapy*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Singing*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Speech Therapy*
  • Stroke / complications