Promoting well-being through group drumming with mental health service users and their carers

Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2018 Dec;13(1):1484219. doi: 10.1080/17482631.2018.1484219.


Purpose: Music has been linked with well-being across clinical and community settings. Yet, research has focused on assessment of single dimensions of well-being and on the typical receiver of support services. Acknowledging the burden that a caring role encompasses and integrating recent proposals for a multifaceted definition of well-being, we explore the extent to which group drumming interventions translate into multidimensional well-being change for both mental health service users and carers.

Method: Thirty-nine participants engaged in one of a series of community drumming programmes were assessed via semi-structured interviews (n = 11) and focus groups (n = 28) at the end of each programme. Data were analysed using IPA.

Results and conclusion: Emotional, psychological and social dimensions of well-being emerged for both patients and carers, accounted for through six themes: (1) hedonia: positive affect and pleasant physical effects of drumming; (2) agency: initiative and sense of control; (3) accomplishment: non-specific and in relation to musical goals; (4) engagement, through focus and flow; (5) a redefinition of self, through self-awareness, construction of a positive identity, self-prospection and incorporation of a musical identity; and (6) social well-being, through connectedness and positive relationships. The potential of such interventions for clinical contexts is discussed.

Keywords: Well-being; group drumming; music; mutual recovery; positive mental health.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adult
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • Music / psychology*
  • Pleasure
  • Quality of Life*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Self Concept
  • Social Participation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council [AH/K003364/1].