The latest research with eating disorder patients

Download Research Summary   Lyle Povah: Eating Disorders Drumming Research St. Paul's Hospital 2009

To get the complete Research Data and Findings contact Lyle Povah


In-Patient Eating Disorders Program

St. Paul’s Hospital
Vancouver, BC, Canada


Eating disorder in-patients who participated in one or more drum circle interventions experienced a highly statistically significant increase in positive affect (emotions and feelings), and a highly statistically significant decrease in negative affect, after the interventions.

40 one-hour drum circles were held for this program which took place between June 2010 and March 2011 at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, in the In-Patient Eating Disorders Program. The 79 individual patients involved (in a total of 204 drum circle interventions) used the validated PANAS (Positive and Negative Affect Scale) to rate, on a scale of 1 – 5, ten positive and ten negative emotions before and after each drum circle. The hypothesis was: “Drum Circle participation increases the positive and decreases the negative emotions and feelings in eating disorder patients”.


Lyle Povah has been leading a Drum Circle Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in the In-Patient Eating Disorders Program since 2006, offering an initial 4 week pilot series, then a 3 month program in 2007 (see program evaluation below), a 6 month program in 2009 (see study summary below) and most recently a 10 month program, which was completed in March 2011. Specialized protocols and Drum Circle facilitation techniques continue to be developed which are specifically designed for the eating disorder patient population.

*** Drum Circle Program on 2 North Psychiatric Ward ran October 2011 to March 2012

*** 2 Drum Circle Programs currently running (October 2012 to June 2013)





1) from the Haven SHEN Blog, July 2011 Article – “Drum Talk: Uncovering Joy”

I am the leader of ‘Drum Talk – African Drumming for Creativity, Passion and Healing‘, a Haven course that allows us to explore aspects of who we are through drumming and music, and then further assists us in uncovering the joy of an innate ‘musicianship’ that is our natural birthright. I say ‘uncovering the joy’ because I believe it is only temporarily inaccessible and simply needs the right conditions to re-emerge. While this work has always been about building community, enhancing health, deepening faith, exploring creativity and moving into the true expression of ourselves, I now subscribe primarily to the simple notion that if we are open to it, playing music, singing and drumming together uncovers joy. Joy is like the yeast in the bread – when it is part of the mix, all the other elemental components are able to rise up together fully expressed.
Continue reading “Drum Talk: Uncovering Joy”

2) International Society for Music Education

The article “HOME AWAY FROM HOME – creating a nurturing musical environment for children in hospital settings”, written by Lyle Povah, has been published in the Oct/Nov 2010 issue of the International Society for Music Education newsletter.

Please click on the image below to see the article.

Lyle Povah: International Society for Music Education - Newsletter Oct2010

3) “Drumming and Spirituality”

“DRUMMING AND SPIRITUALITY” was published in “ARTS AND THE SPIRIT” and was written as supplementary material to a MusicWorks workshop at the United Church’s National Conference “LEAD 2004 – FAITH FORMATION THROUGH THE LENS OF THE ARTS” at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada.

“When I am drumming with a group and the sound is “on”, I feel “connected” in
the largest sense of the word, to my body, to others, to nature, to God, as if the
pieces of the puzzle now fit together. In describing sacred music, I once wrote
“….the musical landscape has been laid open, there is synchronicity without
words, guidance without a guide, and for a time, there is no time….”. There is
also no effort or thought required – the body, mind and spirit feel nourished and
supported, and sometimes it seems as though someone other than me is making
the sound.
Clinical psychologist George Leonard, when speaking of drumming as being a key
factor for invocation of spirit says: “Drumming breaks up the ordinary habit
patterns of the brain and opens up the possibility of alternative patterns
emerging”. When different patterns emerge the result is creativity, the word that
for me is most synonymous with God. I have heard it said that our purpose in life
is to remember and re-create who we are, the idea that no additions are
required, only that what is already there is recognized and celebrated. The drum
reverberates through our whole multi-dimensional being, an ancient call to bring
us back to ourselves and to God, and with that a creative, passionate and vibrant life. The drum and rhythm have become my instruments for remembering. I hope the drum can speak to you as well.”

Please click on the image below to download the complete “Drumming and Spirituality” pdf.

Share it!