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Performance anxiety in professional musicians: a systematic review on prevalence, risk factors and clinical treatment effects

  • I. Fernholz (a1) (a2) (a3), J. L. M. Mumm (a1) (a2), J. Plag (a1) (a2), K. Noeres (a4), G. Rotter (a2) (a3) (a4), S. N. Willich (a2) (a4), A. Ströhle (a1), A. Berghöfer (a2) (a4) and A. Schmidt (a2) (a3) (a5)...


Music performance anxiety (MPA) is one of the most common disorders among professional musicians, nevertheless, little is known about the disease. With this systematic review, prevalence, risk factors and treatment procedures for MPA were assessed, and for the first time, quality assessments were carried out for all studies using standardized assessment tools. A systematic literature search was conducted via search algorithms in the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycArticles, PsycInfo and ERIC. Included were case reports, case–control, cohort, cross-sectional and intervention studies examining professional musicians with MPA. For quality assessment, adapted tools of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute were used. A total of 43 studies were included (10 case reports, 21 intervention, 11 cross-sectional, one cohort study). Quality ratings ranged from −11 to 6 out of a maximum of 15/16 points for cross-sectional/cohort studies and −4 to 11 out of 18 points for intervention studies. The prevalence of MPA was between 16.5% and 60%. More women than men were affected and musicians older than 45–50 years reported less MPA than younger musicians. Regarding treatment cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and β-blockers were most often researched with beneficial results for CBT. However, studies with adequate control groups for CBT interventions are needed to clarify its efficacy. Studies showed methodological weaknesses, especially in the selection of participants, recording of influencing factors, blinding of interventions, randomization of participants and analysis of comorbidity. Recommendations for further research are made.


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Author for correspondence: Alexander Schmidt, E-mail:


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Performance anxiety in professional musicians: a systematic review on prevalence, risk factors and clinical treatment effects

  • I. Fernholz (a1) (a2) (a3), J. L. M. Mumm (a1) (a2), J. Plag (a1) (a2), K. Noeres (a4), G. Rotter (a2) (a3) (a4), S. N. Willich (a2) (a4), A. Ströhle (a1), A. Berghöfer (a2) (a4) and A. Schmidt (a2) (a3) (a5)...


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