Exit Menu

Arts in health in the self-management of chronic respiratory disease

Arts in Health participation is recognised by the World Health Organisation as being beneficial to holistic health outcomes.

Such interventions include singing and dancing, both of which have relevance to physiotherapy in the potential to improve outcomes for people living with chronic respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Interstitial Lung Disease (management of symptoms, improving balance and exercise capacity).

A small number of randomised controlled trials have explored the clinical effectiveness of singing for lung health for individuals living with COPD, showing improvements in physical health-related quality of life. Further mechanistic and clinical effectiveness trials are now warranted to further explore the potential of Arts in Health in the management of Chronic Respiratory Disease.

As part of this PhD the student will:

  • Learn different Arts in Health practices applicable to individuals with Chronic Respiratory Disease
  • Perform a systematic review of arts in health intervention content and outcomes
  • Explore physiological changes that occur during performance of arts interventions, when healthy and for individuals living with Chronic Respiratory Diseases
  • Co-design an intervention pilot with a range of stakeholders including individuals with respiratory disease, to explore physiological changes during the repeated performance of Arts in Health exercises


The physiology of singing and implications for ‘Singing for Lung Health’ as a therapy for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 

Singing for Lung Health—a systematic review of the literature and consensus statement

Moving singing for lung health online in response to COVID-19: experience from a randomised controlled trial

Dance for people with chronic respiratory disease: a qualitative study

What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? 

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Adam Lewis - I work in the Department of Health Sciences on a mixed teaching and research contract. My specialist interests are in chronic respiratory disease (particularly COPD), pulmonary rehabilitation, Arts in Health, Lung Volume Reduction, remote monitoring and breathlessness management. I teach on BSc and MSc physiotherapy and ACP modules. I also hold an honorary research contract with The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and aim to build collaborations between clinicians and researchers within the Academic Health Science Centre.

Vicky MacBean - Experienced paediatric respiratory and critical care physiotherapist; research interests in respiratory physiology and interdisciplinary research

Elmar Kal - I gained my BSc (2011) and MSc (2012; cum laude) degrees from the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands). I subsequently worked on a PhD project in which he investigated implicit motor learning in people after stroke. In this collaborative project, I gained experience with a range of study designs (RCT, systematic reviews, questionnaire validation), measurement techniques (e.g. EMG, 3D motion registration) and statistical approaches (e.g. regression-, meta-, and factor analysis). Towards the end of my PhD, I also worked as Lecturer in Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, leading a 2nd-year BSc module on Pathology of Movement and teaching on evidence-based practice. I additionally worked as researcher at the chronic pain unit of Rehabilitation Centre Heliomare.I moved to London in March 2019, to take up my current position as Research Fellow at Brunel. I am currently in charge of the posture and gait lab, with my current research focusing on the topic of falls in older adults and neurological populations. I am mostly interested in the influence of cognitive and psychological factors on postural stability during standing and walking in these populations. This requires the use of different measurement techniques to parcel out the complex mechanisms governing healthy and pathological balance control. Ultimately my goal is to use this knowledge to improve the effectiveness of specific motor learning interventions (e.g. implicit learning) to target specific impairments in posture and gait in these populations.

Related Research Group(s)

Applied Respiratory Research Group

Applied Respiratory Research Group - Applied respiratory research meeting the needs of respiratory-related healthcare