Work environment and health profile among professional musicians in Norway: a comparison with the general population

FFI-Report 2024
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Bjørn Hilt Frank Brundtland Steder
In FFI report 21/00854 "Work Environment and Health Profile: A Health Survey Among Professional Military and Civilian Musicians in Norway" it was recommended to compare the results with corresponding data from the general population/workforce. This report identifies and discusses differences in working environment, health and lifestyle conditions between orchestra musicians and the rest of the population (living conditions survey). This is a descriptive cross-sectional survey of working conditions, health issues, and life-style factors in in 482 civilian orchestra musicians and 111 military orchestra musicians compared to the working general population in Norway. The comparison is based on the answers from an electronic questionnaire survey with questions about psychosocial and organizational working conditions, mental health, musculoskeletal complaints, health, and life-satisfaction in general, use of health care providers, medication, hearing, and tinnitus, coping and control, physical exercise, use of alcohol, and smoking and use of snus. Our main findings were that the musicians had a less favorable psychosocial work environment compared in the general workforce. When comparing civilian musicians with the general population, they had a higher prevalence of mental distress. Also, musicians are more affected from pain in the upper back, neck, and shoulders, compared to the general population. The musicians also reported more work-related complaints with reduced hearing and tinnitus. Despite reporting more mental and physical distress, the musicians were well satisfied with their own health and their lives in general. Musicians from civilian orchestras had a higher use of different health care providers and a higher use of medications. We also found that the civilian musicians drank more alcohol than others. First and foremost, the report seeks to communicate the overall results to thematic stake-holders, i.e., managers, employers, and trustees within the music profession (military and civilian) as well as decision-makers within the Norwegian Armed Forces. The report seeks to facilitate and support the best possible follow-up of orchestra musicians who experience far more work-related injuries than the rest of the population. The survey among musicians was carried out during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have had some impact on the results. There was also a time difference in the data collection from the musicians and the general population. Regardless of this, we conclude that the musicians face certain increased challenges compared to the general population regarding their psychosocial and organizational working environment. They also experience more mental distress, more musculoskeletal complaints, and more complaints with work-related reduced hearing and tinnitus.

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