Family members’ perceptions of a Singing Medicine project in a children’s hospital
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Family members’ perceptions of a Singing Medicine project in a children’s hospital

Carolyn Blackburn Reader in interdisciplinary practice and research with families, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England

Why you should read this article
  • To enhance your knowledge of the role of ‘arts-in-health’ initiatives

  • To understand how a Singing Medicine project can improve the outcomes of children with long-term conditions in hospital

  • To recognise how the concept of the ‘hospital family’ can benefit children and their relatives

Aim The aim of this study was to explore family members’ perceptions of a Singing Medicine project undertaken by children with long-term conditions in one children’s hospital.

Method A qualitative approach was used involving semi-structured interviews with the family members of children aged 3-14 years who had long-term conditions and were being cared for at one children’s hospital in England. Interviews were digitally recorded, anonymised and stored in a password-protected space. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings Analysis identified five themes: people in purple shirts; music and emotions; being part of a ‘hospital family’; distraction therapy; and lasting effects and life after illness and death. The negative effect for children of being separated from their homes and families during long-term hospital stays was evident, but positive effects, such as developing new relationships, were also identified. Participating in the Singing Medicine project provided children with opportunities to express themselves. The concept of belonging to a hospital family emerged from the study, which could potentially reduce stressors and enhance children’s well-being and capacity to cope with long-term illness.

Conclusion The findings showed that participation in ‘arts-in-health’ initiatives such as the Singing Medicine project was associated with benefits for children with long-term conditions and their families, such as a reduction in negative emotions and enhanced well-being through distraction and the sharing of positive experiences. Ensuring that children who spend prolonged periods of time in hospital have opportunities to play and express themselves is a priority for healthcare services.

Nursing Children and Young People. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.2019.e1241

Peer review

This article has been subject to open peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Blackburn C (2019) Family members’ perceptions of a Singing Medicine project in a children’s hospital. Nursing Children and Young People. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.2019.e1241


The author would like to thank the Froebel Trust for providing funds for this project

Published online: 11 November 2019

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