A Cross-Sectional Study of Psychosocial Work Environment and Stress in the Danish Symphony Orchestras

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2012 Aug;85(6):639-49. doi: 10.1007/s00420-011-0710-z. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Purpose: To investigate psychosocial work environment and stress in Danish symphony orchestra musicians.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of psychosocial work factors and stress symptoms among 441 musicians in six Danish symphony orchestras. The response rate was 78% (n = 342). The questions were from COPSOQ (Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire). Mean values of 19 COPSOQ-scales were compared by gender and instrument group. The results for the musicians were compared with results for the general Danish work force (COPSOQ database).

Results: Female musicians reported higher work demands and higher stress symptoms than their male colleagues. Between instrument groups, 2nd violinists seemed to be of particular risk compared with the other instrumental groups in aspects of work pace, work organization, and content, whereas 1st violinists perceived higher emotional stress compared with 2nd violinists. The musicians' experience of increased work demands as well as deteriorated, work organization and job content, interpersonal relations and leadership, and work-individual interface was significantly associated with increasing stress symptoms. Compared to the general workforce independently of gender, Danish symphony orchestra musicians reported higher emotional demands, lower influence, lower social support, lower sense of community, and lower job satisfaction. However, the musicians reported a higher commitment to the workplace.

Conclusions: The findings indicate a more demanding psychosocial work environment exposure among symphony orchestra musicians than among Danish workers in general. Critical results are the relatively high work demands, low influence, and low social support, females being of higher risk than males.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music / psychology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Stress, Psychological* / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology*