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Underutilization of Worker's Compensation Insurance among Professional Orchestral Musicians

Ruth L. Chimenti, Linda R. Van Dillen, Heidi Prather, Devyani Hunt, Peter C. Chimenti, Lynnette Khoo-Summers
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 28 Number 1: Page 54 (March 2013)

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Abstract: Orchestral musicians commonly have playing-related symptoms (PRS) but few use worker's compensation (WC) insurance for assessment and treatment. The purpose of this study was to examine the frequency of, and factors related to, filing a WC claim among musicians. Methods: An online questionnaire was completed by 261 members of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM). The responses were analyzed to describe the frequency and type of injuries, perceived cause of PRS, and severity of injury in musicians who did and did not file a WC claim. Results: Of the musicians, 93% reported PRS in the 12 months prior to the study. Only 9 musicians filed WC claims during their careers, and all claims were for upper extremity injuries. The most frequent reason for not filing a WC claim was insufficient severity. Yet among musicians describing their PRS as not severe enough for a WC claim, 47% had symptoms for >15 minutes after playing and 16% had symptoms that interfered with daily activities. Conclusion: These data suggest there is frequent under-reporting of injuries to WC among professional orchestral musicians. Although most musicians reported PRS that persisted after playing, the most common reason for not filing a WC claim was insufficient severity of symptoms perceived by the musicians. Future research should focus on clearly defining severity for PRS-related injuries and determining when treatment for overuse syndromes should be paid for through the WC system.

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