Cardiff Metropolitan University
Thesis submission_Final_Simone Willis.pdf (6.99 MB)

Occupational Stress and Well-being of Professional Classical Musicians and Conservatoire Music Students

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posted on 2024-05-15, 10:43 authored by Simone Willis

Classical musicians experience a range of demands within their occupational environment, which if not coped with effectively, can cause stress and negatively impact well-being. This research examined the stress and well-being process in professional classical musicians and conservatoire music students. Three studies were conducted using a multi-method research design. Study 1 was a mixed-methods systematic review, which evaluated and synthesised the literature on the relationship between demands and well-being of performing artists. Twenty studies were analysed revealing differing levels of quality and a wide range of stress and well-being frameworks underpinning the research. However, the frameworks used did not help researchers capture all the demands experienced by performing artists, consider stress appraisal, or adequately integrate well-being outcomes. Therefore, the Demands-Resources-Individual Effects (DRIVE) model, a more integrated model, was adopted to underpin the remainder of the research. For Studies 2 and 3, an explanatory sequential design was used and quantitative findings were explored through qualitative follow-up. Study 2 was a cross-sectional survey that assessed occupational characteristics, personal characteristics, perceived stress, and well-being. Structural equation modelling was used and results partially supported predictions of the DRIVE model. The main finding was that occupational and personal characteristics had a direct effect on perceived stress and well-being. However, perceived stress did not contribute to well-being. This could be due to differential effects of stress appraisal, which was examined in Study 3 through an interpretative phenomenological approach. Underpinned also by Cognitive-Motivational-Relational Theory, Study 3 interpreted the lived experiences of occupational stress and well-being of musicians. A key finding was that musicians most often appraised occupational demands as a threat due to underlying properties of stress appraisal including preparation, comparison with others, and uncertainty. Additionally, well-being outcomes were related to stress appraisals. Following from these findings, a series of organisational and personal level interventions are recommended.



  • School of Sport and Health Sciences

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

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