Introduction Musculoskeletal symptoms are common in musicians, but little is known of the work- or study-related impacts, nor how they compare with other groups. The aim of this study was to compare professional musicians and pre-professional musicians (university music students), with a reference group, regarding the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms and their impact.
Methods A questionnaire survey was distributed to university music students and professional musicians, as well as non-music university staff and students (the reference group). Ache, pain and discomfort in the previous 12 months were determined using a modified Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire, as well as the work- and study-related impact of these symptoms. Descriptive statistics were reported, and comparisons were made adjusting for age and gender. A 5% level of significance was used.
Result Symptom prevalence was high in both groups (86% for musicians and 91% for the reference group), principally in the neck, shoulder and lower back regions. After adjusting for age and gender, symptoms in the wrist/hand region were more common for musicians (OR 1.55, 95% CI: 1.12 to 2.15), and less common in the lower back (OR 0.69, 95% CI: 0.50 to 0.95), hip/thigh (OR 0.45, 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.68), knee (OR 0.45, 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.66), and ankle/foot (OR 0.40, 95% CI: 0.27 to 0.58) when compared with the reference group.
Musicians were more likely to make changes to their work or study (OR 2.08, 95% CI: 1.27 to 3.39), or take leave from work or study (OR 1.71, 95% CI: 1.12 to 2.60) because of their musculoskeletal symptoms, when compared with the reference group.
Discussion Musculoskeletal symptoms were common in both groups, with musicians more likely to experience wrist/hand symptoms. Musicians’ were more likely to experience an impact from musculoskeletal symptoms on their work or study. Implications will be discussed.
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