Can singing help improve the quality of life for people with severe non-malignant lung diseases?
PhD student Lena Ly is hoping to answer this question as part of her PhD with the Centre for Palliative Care at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, and The University of Melbourne.
Lena joined the Centre this year under the supervision of Prof Jennifer Philip, A/Prof Natasha Smallwood and Prof Peter Hudson, and is the recipient of the Windermere Foundation PhD scholarship.
Lena completed her Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours) at the University of Melbourne in 2020 with the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre team at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. She developed a keen interest in qualitative health research during her undergraduate honours degree. Lena has commenced her PhD in 2021 with the goal of dedicating her research efforts and contributing her knowledge to improving the quality of life for advanced chronic respiratory patients and their carers.
Her passion for studying palliative care stems from her desire to help fill gaps in research surrounding this vulnerable population whose needs remain unmet. Lena considers learning from the forefront of research into palliative care alongside leading clinicians and researchers at the Centre for Palliative Care, and her dedicated PhD supervisory team, as an incredibly enriching experience.
For people living with advanced non-malignant lung disease and their carers, managing physical symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue can significantly affect their health-related quality of life (QOL). Lena’s PhD will explore the benefits of a singing for breathing program and other non-pharmacological approaches for people with severe non-malignant lung diseases.
Singing is a non-medical activity that can improve QOL, physical and psychological symptoms, and wellbeing among patients with chronic obstructive lung disease and interstitial lung disease, and their carers. Lena’s research program will include a qualitative systematic review, longitudinal qualitative interview study and ethnography research to explore the experiences, impact and outcomes of a community-based, respiratory-focussed “SINFONIA: SingINg For breathing in COPD aNd ILD pAtients” program. Additionally, Lena will explore facilitators and barriers to participating in this program. Outcomes of the project will inform future clinical trials and facilitate translation of this intervention into breathlessness management and palliative care for people with respiratory disease and will have implications for those who are diagnosed with other chronic conditions.
In thinking about commencing her PhD journey, Lena quotes Henry Ford - ‘Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.’
Beginning your PhD is the start of a rewarding yet, undoubtedly long, and challenging journey! Looking at the big picture and keeping the end goal in sight, then breaking each task down to smaller and more achievable parts will allow you to look at your work from a more manageable perspective. Working smarter and not harder by planning, prioritising tasks, and setting deadlines are a few ways to boost productivity. Most importantly, productivity during your PhD journey will be driven by setting time aside to also rest, recharge and rejuvenate.”
The Centre is looking forward seeing the outcomes of Lena’s research over the next few years of her PhD and relishes the opportunity to support the next generation of palliative care researchers.
Follow Lena's PhD journey