Scientific/Clinical Article| Volume 34, ISSUE 2, P159-165, April 2021

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Feasibility and impact of a musculoskeletal health for musicians (MHM) program for musician students: A randomized controlled pilot study

Published:April 15, 2021DOI:


      • High level of reported musculoskeletal playing related pain at baseline in cohort of musician students at intensive summer music festival program.
      • An injury prevention workshop is feasible to implement at a summer festival program.
      • Pain incidence level decreased in the cohort that participated in the health education and injury prevention program.



      There is a high incidence of performance-related musculoskeletal disorders in musicians that may be reduced via education programs. However, the efficacy of formalized injury prevention programs has not been rigorously studied.


      To assess the feasibility and effect of a formalized injury prevention education workshop on incidence and severity of musculoskeletal pain in a cohort of musician-students attending an intensive summer music festival compared to controls.

      Study design

      Randomized-controlled-pilot trial.


      Musicians at an 8-week long intensive summer festival were randomized to an intervention (workshop) or control group. Workshop attendees participated in a 90-minute session of injury prevention strategies. Musculoskeletal outcome data were collected at the start and end of the festival. Outcomes included presence of musculoskeletal pain, adherence level, and sub-scales of the Musculoskeletal Pain Intensity and Interference Questionnaire for Musicians.


      A total of 57 musician-students (ages 17-30, 23 females) participated in the study, and 48(84%) completed the study. Seventy-five percent of workshop participants reported adherence over 8 weeks. At baseline, 84% of participants reported a history of playing-related pain, and 47% recent or current pain. Participants played a range of instruments (50% string, 34% piano, 16% woodwind/brass). At baseline, average weekly reported playing time was 39 hours (±11). At follow-up, reported pain decreased by 32% in the intervention group and increased by 8% in controls (P < .01). Pain interference scores were lower (Post – Pre = -4.58, 95% CI -9.26 to 0.11, P = .055). There was no statistically significant difference between groups for pain intensity.


      The high compliance and willingness to participate suggests that injury prevention education implementation is feasible. Our preliminary findings suggest a positive effect on pain incidence and pain interference in the intervention group. Future studies will examine the relationship between adherence levels and injury rates in a larger cohort and identify obstacles to implementation.


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      JHT Read for Credit

      Quiz: # 750

      Record your answers on the Return Answer Form found on the tear-out coupon at the back of this issue or to complete online and use a credit card, go to There is only one best answer for each question.
      • # 1.
        The study design was
        • a.
        • b.
          large cohort
        • c.
          randomized pilot
        • d.
      • # 2.
        Subjects participated in
        • a.
          a 90 minute instructional session
        • b.
          8 weeks of injury prevention instruction
        • c.
          2 days of instruction
        • d.
          2 semesters of injury prevention instruction
      • # 3.
        Outcome measures included
        • a.
          sub-scales of a specific self-report instrument for musicians
        • b.
          adherence level
        • c.
        • d.
          all of the above
      • # 4.
        Almost ________ of participants reported pre-existing pain related to playing of their musical instrument
        • a.
        • b.
        • c.
        • d.
      • # 5.
        The authors felt that the experimental results justified further study of the program
        • a.
          not true
        • b.
      When submitting to the HTCC for re-certification, please batch your JHT RFC certificates in groups of 3 or more to get full credit.