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Predictors of pain and other musculoskeletal symptoms among professional instrumental musicians: elucidating specific effects

Janet Davies, Sandra Mangion
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 17 Number 4: Page 155 (December 2002)

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Abstract: Professional instrumental musicians are known to be vulnerable to playing-related pain and other musculoskeletal symptoms. The present study was concerned with comprehensively investigating predictors of pain/symptoms in comparisons involving three outcome indices: frequency of pain/symptoms over the playing lifetime, frequency of pain/symptoms during the previous 12 months, and pain/symptom severity. Predictors were clustered into three groups, demographic/physical (gender, number of years playing, instrument), workplace (ergonomic problems, warm-up/rest-break provision, playing load, noise disturbance, playing-related stressors), and health-related (health status, exercise behavior, playing-related muscle tension, preventive behaviors, training in prevention, attitudes to playing-related pain). A fourth group comprised 12 interaction predictors. A detailed questionnaire was completed by 240 permanently employed and freelance musicians working in Sydney's classical and non-classical music industry. Statistical regression analysis was used to determine the significant predictors. Two factors highly significant for the three outcomes were high levels of playing-related muscle tension and high levels of preventive behaviors. Playing-related stress was significant for pain/symptoms during the previous year and the playing lifetime, and high stress interacted in its effect with lack of warm-up and rest-break facilities in the workplace for those musicians with severe pain/symptoms. Musicians who had been playing fewer years showed more pain/symptoms in the previous year and playing lifetime, but not significantly greater pain/symptom severity. String players were significantly more likely to have frequent and severe pain/symptoms over the playing lifetime. For the previous year, female string players were more affected than male string players or female players of other instruments, while men were more affected than women unless the women were string players. Poor health in the previous year was associated with more musculoskeletal pain/symptoms in that period.

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