Potential Benefit of Singing for People with Parkinson's Disease: A Systematic Review

J Parkinsons Dis. 2016 Jun 3;6(3):473-84. doi: 10.3233/JPD-160837.


Background: There is evidence that participation in performing arts brings psychosocial benefits in the general population and in recent years there has been substantial interest in the potential therapeutic benefit of performing arts, including singing, for people with chronic medical conditions including those of neurological aetiology.

Objective: To systematically review the existing body of evidence regarding the potential benefit of singing on clinical outcomes of people with PD.

Methods: Seven online bibliographic databases were systematically searched in January 2016 and supplementary searches were conducted. Full-text original peer-reviewed scientific papers that investigated the potential benefit of singing on at least one of speech, functional communication, cognitive status, motor function and quality of life in human participants with PD were eligible for inclusion.

Results: 449 unique records were identified, 25 full-text articles were screened and seven studies included in the review. All seven studies assessed the impact of singing on speech, five found partial evidence of benefit and two found no evidence of benefit. One study assessed each of functional communication and quality of life and no significant benefit was found. No included study assessed the impact of singing on motor function or cognitive status.

Conclusions: Singing may benefit the speech of people with PD, although evidence is not unequivocal. Further research is required to assess wider benefits including on functional communication, cognitive status, motor function and quality of life. Substantial methodological limitations were identified in the existing literature. Recommendations are made for advancing the state of the literature.

Keywords: Parkinson disease; music therapy; rehabilitation; review; singing; speech therapy; systematic.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Singing*