OBEJECTS: This study examined the physical and mental health of orchestra musicians of different types of orchestras compared to a reference sample of the general population and of two other professions.
Methods: Professional musicians (n = 429) from nine opera and/or concert orchestras were surveyed with the Short Form-12 general health questionnaire (SF-12). Data were compared with a reference sample (n = 2805) with a sample of physicians (n = 549) and aircraft manufacturers (n = 822).
Results: Compared to the reference sample and the two other professional groups, the musicians had a higher physical health score: 53.07 (SD 5.89) vs 49.03 (SD 9.35) reference, 51.26 (SD 7.53) physicians, and 49.31 (SD 7.99) aircraft manufacturers. The musicians' mental health score was lower compared to the reference sample but did not differ from the other professional groups: 48.33 (SD 9.52) for musicians vs 52.24 (SD 8.10) reference, 48.26 (SD 10.06) physicians, and 48.54 (SD 9.59) aircraft manufacturers. Physical health but not mental health decreased with age in all groups. In physical and mental health, women scored lower than men. There was no significant difference in physical and mental health scores between musicians of concert and opera orchestras. Age and gender accounted for 3.6% of the variance of the physical health score, but none of the demographic characteristics or orchestral roles and functions was predictive for mental health scores.
Conclusions: Musicians report better physical but poorer mental health than the general population, but they did not differ in mental health scores from physicians or aircraft manufacturers.