Have musicians’ musculoskeletal symptoms been thoroughly addressed? A systematic mapping review
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The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia (School of Public Health)
The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia (School of Biological Sciences)
Online publication date: 2019-06-10
Corresponding author
Jessica Stanhope   

The University of Adelaide, School of Public Health, Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building, Crn George St & North Tce, Adelaide 5000, Australia
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(3):291-331
The authors aimed to characterize the current evidence base regarding musicians’ musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS), in order to identify gaps for future research. A systematic search was conducted to identify peer-review studies published in English in 2007–2016 that investigated musicians’ MSS. Narrative reviews, case reports, protocols, and questionnaire or program development papers were excluded. Data were synthesized descriptively in order to identify gaps in the current evidence base. Five systematic reviews and 153 primary studies (133 unique) were included in this review. The majority (71%) of studies investigated professional musicians and/or university music students, with orchestral musicians being the most commonly investigated group. The majority of studies investigated the extent of the problem (68%) and/or associated factors (54%). Eight studies compared the prevalence of MSS outcomes with other populations. A range of risk factors were investigated; however, few studies used longitudinal designs. A total of 16 intervention studies were identified (3 clinical, 13 public health), with 12 investigating education or exercise programs. There is a need for research into musicians beyond classical university music students and professional orchestral musicians, and these musical sub-groups should be compared to determine the most at risk groups of musicians. Studies looking at potential risk factors should move towards longitudinal designs so that the temporal relationship of these factors and MSS could be established, where cross-sectional designs have indicated that an association exists. Intervention studies should be based upon the risk factors identified, and extend beyond education and exercise programs. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(3):291–331
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