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Musculoskeletal Health Complaints and Corresponding Risk Factors Among Music Students: Study Process, Analysis Strategies, and Interim Results from a Prospective Cohort Study

Nikolaus Ballenberger, Dirk Möller, Christoff Zalpour
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 33 Number 3: Page 166 (September 2018)

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Abstract: AIM: In this prospective longitudinal study, the physical and psychological health status of music students is assessed at the beginning of their university music study and tracked over time. Analysis strategies and interim results from the first-year cohort, including 1-year incidences, monthly prevalences, and predictors of developing musculoskeletal health complaints (MHC), are presented.
METHODS: This prospective longitudinal study is calculated to enlist a total sample of 370 participants, including musicians and non-musicians, over 5 years. Baseline measurements include a self-designed questionnaire, core strength endurance, hypermobility, finger-floor-distance, motor control, mechanosensitivity, health-related quality of life (SF36), and stress and coping inventory (SCI). The occurrence of MHC is based on monthly online questionnaires.
RESULTS: The first-year subcohort enrolled 33 music students and 30 non-music control students. The mean monthly completion rate for the questionnaire was 55.7±8.7%. At baseline, music students showed significantly more stress symptoms, reduced physical function¬ing, and increased bodily pain compared to control students. The 1-year incidence of MHC was 59% for music students and 44% for controls. Risk factors for MHC included being a music student, previous pain, reduced physical functioning, stress symptoms, reduced emotional functioning, and mechanosensitivity. Being a music student, physical functioning, sleep duration, positive thinking, and general mechanosensitivity had a predictive ability of 0.77 (ROC curve) for MHC.
CONCLUSION: A total of 63 students enrolled in the first cohort is in line with the precalculated sample size. This prospective study design enables the measurement of MHC incidence and provides insight into mechanisms in the development of MHC among music students, including the interaction of physical, psychological, and psychosocial factors.

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