Injury and the orchestral environment: Part I: The role of work organisation and psychosocial factors in injury risk

Dale L. Rickert, Margaret S. Barrett, Bronwen J. Ackermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


That orchestral musicians are exposed to a high risk of playing-related injury is well established, but despite this, little is known about how work organisation and psychosocial factors may contribute to this risk. Lack of research in this area is surprising considering the importance of these factors in managing occupational health risks in a wide range of other working populations. To address this, we conducted a qualitative study with the following aims: to investigate orchestral musicians' and managers' perceptions of those workplace environmental factors that contribute to injury, and to investigate the potential influence of work organisation and psychosocial factors on injury risk for orchestral musicians. Using a qualitative case-study methodology, in-depth, semistructured interviews were undertaken with 10 professional orchestral cellists (2 casual and 8 full-time members) from a single Australian orchestra. After initial data analysis, further interviews were undertaken with a set of 5 orchestral management staff as a means of data triangulation. All data were analysed using a "themes-based" analysis of narrative approach. The findings indicate that musicians perceive that stress in the orchestral environment increases injury risk. The perceived stressors were divided into two broad categories: psychosocial injury risks, which included performance stress and interpersonal relationships, and combined psychosocial/physical injury risks such as work organisation and lack of control. This article evaluates the findings in terms of existing literature and makes recommendations for better management of environmental injury risk for orchestral musicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-229
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Problems of Performing Artists
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

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