Sing With Us

Investigating the psychosocial and biological impact of singing in cancer care

Sing with Us explored the impact of singing in choirs for people affected by cancer. The charity Tenovus Cancer Care established this large-scale arts-in-health programme in 2010 and previous research connected to the programme revealed improvements in pain, vitality, social function, depression, and overall mental health for those who took part.

Working in partnership with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the London Cancer Alliance, we extended the understanding of the benefits of singing in choirs by examining changes in biomarkers, including stress hormones (glucocorticoids), proteins, and receptors of the immune system.

Key findings

  • A pilot study with 193 participants revealed that a single choir session reduced stress hormones and increased levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer.
  • The longitudinal aspect of the study showed that singing significantly decreased anxiety and increased wellbeing for carers and improved self-efficacy and self-esteem for those who had been bereaved.
  • Qualitative data explored the mechanisms behind these effects, highlighting building resilience and meeting existential changes as key components of what enabled singing to result in these benefits.


Watch Daisy Fancourt share some of the key findings here:

Summaries and resources

Find out more about the Sing with Us service

Impact and media

The pilot study has had over 25,000 views and received widespread media coverage in 2016, including articles on the BBC One Show, the Daily Mail, BBC Local Radio and many more. Watch the Tenovus Cancer Care video to meet some of the London choir members.

Selected publications

Fancourt D, Finn S, Warran K, Wiseman T (2019), Group singing in bereavement: effects on mental health, self-efficacy, self-esteem and well-being, BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care [DOI].

Fancourt D, Warran K, Finn S, & Wiseman T (2019), Psychosocial singing interventions for the mental health and well-being of family carers of patients with cancer: results from a longitudinal controlled study, BMJ Open, 9:e026995 [DOI].

Warran K, Fancourt D, & Perkins R (2019), The experience and perceived impact of group singing for men living with cancer: a phenomenological study, Psychology of Music [DOI].

Warran K, Fancourt D, & Wiseman T (2019), How does the process of group singing impact upon people affected by cancer? A grounded theory study, BMJ Open, 9:e023261 [DOI].

Fancourt D, Williamon A, Carvalho LA, Steptoe A, Dow R, & Lewis I (2016), Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers, e-Cancer Medical Science, 10 (631), 1-13 [DOI] [VIDEO].


Tenovus Cancer Care

Programme area

Clinical trials and implementation science



Research team

Daisy Fancourt, UCL (PI)
Saoirse Finn, UCL
Katey Warran, UCL
Aaron Williamon, Royal College of Music
Theresa Wiseman, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust


Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
London Cancer Alliance