Skip navigation

Chest infection incidence in wind musicians: a survey

Holly Drover, Eleanor Douglas, Kirsty Hyndes, Theresa Harvey-Dunstan


Holly DroverNottingham University Hospitals, Derby Road, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, U.K.,,

  • Abstract
  • Full text
  • References
  • Figures & Tables


Presence of microbes in wind instruments potentially increase the risk of wind instrument musicians (WIMs) developing chest infections (CI). Research investigating any relationships between WIMs and rates of CIs is scarce. This study primarily investigated the incidence of CIs in a group of U.K. WIMs compared to the U.K. general population. Secondary aims explored the WIMs instrument cleaning practice and investigated their knowledge of CI symptoms.


A bespoke questionnaire was distributed to one U.K. university’s wind instrument orchestra auditionees. Participants were included if over 18, of at least grade eight (musical) standard and if they practiced at least four hours per week. Quantitative responses were analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative responses were thematically analysed.


One university in England.


52 questionnaires were completed. Mean ± SD or percentage (%) age 20 ± 1 years, gender 54% female, primary instrument 44% flute and 31% saxophone, diagnosis of asthma 23%.

Outcome measures

Questionnaire of self-reported number of CIs in previous five years, frequency and descriptions of cleaning instruments and knowledge of CI symptoms.


An increased incidence of 62 CIs per 1,000 adults per year was reported compared to the U.K. general population of 49–54 per 1,000 adults per year. Thirty one percent (n = 16) reported least CI in the previous five years. 48% (n = 25) cleaned their instruments every time after playing and 58% (n = 30) had never been taught cleaning methods. Only 2% (n = 1) were able to correctly identify all five CI symptoms stated in the questionnaire.


WIMs had an increased incidence of CIs compared to the U.K. general population. Instrument hygiene and knowledge of CI symptoms was poor. Further investigation on a larger scale would build on these findings.

2022 Journal (Vol. 54 Issue 3)
Journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care. Volume 54. Issue 3. 2022. Article on: p80-91
Download Full Issue
Submit an Article