Towards a Holistic Understanding of Musician’s Focal Dystonia: Educational Factors and Mistake Rumination Contribute to the Risk of Developing the Disorder

Anna Détári*, Hauke Egermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Musicians’ Focal Dystonia (MFD) is a task-specific neurological movement disorder, affecting 1–2% of highly skilled musicians. The condition can impair motor function by creating involuntary movements, predominantly in the upper extremities or the embouchure. The pathophysiology of the disorder is not fully understood, and complete recovery is extremely rare. While most of the literature views the condition through a neurological lens, a handful of recent studies point out certain psychological traits and the presence of adverse playing-related experiences and preceding trauma as possible contributors to the onset. The nature and the frequency of these factors, however, are under-researched. The present quasi-experimental study aimed to compare musicians with and without MFD in terms of the frequency of various adverse psychosocial and psychological factors to explore their contribution to the onset of the condition. Professional musicians with MFD (n = 107) and without MFD (n = 68) were recruited from online platforms, musicians’ unions, and organisations to fill out a survey. The survey was based on two previously conducted interview studies and included the Student-Instructor Relationship Scale (SIRS), the Mistake Rumination Scale (MRS), the Trauma History Screen, and self-constructed questions about the received music education, early success, and personal experiences. To identify potential risk factors, independent samples t-tests were conducted and found that there are significant differences in musicians with and without MFD in terms of mistake rumination, early success, and the received music education. A logistic regression showed that six factors contributed to the construct to various extents; we observed a significant model [χ2(80) = 22.681, p < 0.001], which predicted 71.2% of the cases correctly. This exploratory study shows that psychological and psychosocial factors might play a role in the development of MFD. Understanding these in more detail could inform preventative strategies and complement the current therapeutic approaches to support this vulnerable population better.

Original languageEnglish
Article number882966
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Early online date9 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 Détári and Egermann.


  • holistic model
  • mistake rumination
  • music education
  • musician’s focal dystonia
  • psychosocial risk factors

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