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Surveying popular musicians' health status using convenience samples

Susan D. Raeburn, John Hipple, William Delaney, Kris Chesky
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 18 Number 3: Page 113 (September 2003)

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Abstract: This article describes findings from two separate convenience samples of popular musicians' health status, access to and use of health care, health habits, and related attitudes surveyed in 1996-1997. Sample 1 consisted of 111 musicians attending one of three regional music conferences (in Portland, OR, Austin, TX, or San Francisco, CA). The findings from sample 1 consist of demographics and music career-related information; current medical problems; nonmusculoskeletal (N-MS) and musculoskeletal (MS) problems that affected performance in the previous year; access to and use of health care; health habits related to alcohol, drug use, and smoking, use of hearing protection; and several health-related attitudes. Sample 2 consisted of 115 musicians surveyed in 1996 by mail from a random sample of a musicians' union list, by face-to-face interview during music club jobs in Dallas, Texas, or at a music conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The findings from sample 2 are generally limited to N-MS and MS problems that affected performance in the previous year, health habits, and some health-related attitudes. Basic findings for sample 1 were as follows: 26% cited a current medical problem, 49% had at least one N-MS problem, 74% had at least one MS problem, and 42% reported hearing loss. In sample 2, 37% of the musicians reported hearing loss. Overall percentages for N-MS and MS problems for sample 2 were not available, but percentages for specific problems are delineated. Depression and anxiety were among the most frequently cited N-MS problems for both samples. Pain and stiffness were the most frequently reported MS problems for both samples. Ten percent of sample 1 musicians and 16% of sample 2 musicians indicated that alcohol or drug use had hurt their performance in the previous year. More than half of the musicians in sample 1 and sample 2 had health insurance, but most obtained it through non-music-related jobs or family coverage. Although the generalizability of the findings is limited significantly by the nonrandom nature of the samples and generally low response rates, this study nonetheless contributes provisional information on popular musicians' health status. The findings are compared with other musician samples where possible, including some previously unpublished health findings from the University of North Texas Musicians' Health Survey on the Internet. Specific concerns and strategies for future research on popular musicians' health status are suggested.

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