How Group Singing Facilitates Recovery from the Symptoms of Postnatal Depression: A Comparative Qualitative Study


BMC Psychology



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Background: Previous research has demonstrated that making music can enhance positive emotions as well as support positive psychological functioning. However, studies tend to be limited by lack of comparison with other psychosocial interventions. This study builds on a three-arm randomised controlled trial (RCT) that demonstrated that group singing for mothers and babies, but not group creative play, can lead to faster recovery from moderate-severe symptoms of postnatal depression than usual care. The aim was to elucidate the mechanisms of the group singing intervention in order to account for its recovery properties. Methods: Qualitative research was conducted with 54 mothers who had experienced symptoms of postnatal depression. Mothers completed a 10-week programme of either group singing or group creative play as part of the wider RCT study. Data were collected via a series of 10 semi-structured focus groups conducted at the end of each 10-week programme. These were designed to elicit subjective and constructed experiences of the singing and play interventions and were analysed inductively for emergent themes. Results: Five distinctive features of the group singing emerged: (i) providing an authentic, social and multicultural creative experience, (ii) ability to calm babies; (iii) providing immersive ‘me time’ for mothers; (iv) facilitating a sense of achievement and identity; (v) enhancing mother-infant bond. Conclusions: Community group singing interventions may reduce symptoms of postnatal depression through facilitating a functional emotional response rooted in the needs of new motherhood. These features are of relevance to others seeking to implement creative interventions for maternal mental health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Childbirth; Community Music Experience; Emotional Functioning; Gender Disparities; Infants; Mental Health; Mood Disorders; Postpartum Depression; Psychological Outcomes; Recovery Time; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song

Indexed Terms

Postnatal depression; Singing; Community; Qualitative; Focus groups; Adaptation, Psychological; Depression, Postpartum; Infants; Mental Health; Mother-Child Relations; Mothers; Postnatal Care; Postpartum Period; Qualitative Research; Postpartum Depression; Recovery (Disorders); Communities; Focus Group

Study Type

Randomized Controlled; Trial; Quantitative Methods


Psychiatry and Psychology

Document Type