Systematic review: risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in musicians

V. A. E. Baadjou*, N. A. Roussel, J. A. M. C. F. Verbunt, R. J. E. M. Smeets, R. A. de Bie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Although many musicians suffer from musculoskeletal disorders, aetiological factors are unclear. Aims To systematically search for and synthesize the best available evidence on risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in musicians. Methods A database search was performed in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Pedro, OTseeker and Psychinfo. A manual search was conducted in the journals Medical Problems of Performing Artists and Psychology of Music. Studies with an objective to investigate determinants associated with playing-related musculoskeletal disorders were included. Papers were selected based on adequacy of statistical methods for the purpose of the study. Search, first screening and selection were performed by one author. Two reviewers independently performed the final selection using full-text reports. Methodological quality assessment was performed by two reviewers independently. Results One case-control and 14 cross-sectional studies were included. Methodological quality was in general low. Large heterogeneity existed in study design, population, measurement of determinant and outcome and analysis techniques. Data were presented descriptively. Consistent results were found indicating that previous musculoskeletal injury, music performance anxiety, high levels of stress and being a female playing a stringed instrument seemed to be associated with more musculoskeletal disorders. Influence over or support at work, orchestra category/status, exercise behaviour and cigarette smoking seemed to be unrelated with musculoskeletal disorders. No conclusions could be made on causality, as the current data only represent cross-sectional associations. Conclusions Because of lack of prospective studies, no causal relations could be identified in the aetiology of (playing-related) musculoskeletal disorders in instrumental musicians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-622
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Musculoskeletal disease
  • music
  • occupational disease
  • pain
  • risk factors


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic review: risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in musicians'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this