Health Status of Live Theater Actors: A Systematic Literature Review

Eric Martin, Claudio Battaglini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Actors constitute an at-risk population based on the physical burden demanded from their profession, different health behaviors, and poor economic and health insurance status. The purpose of this systematic literature review was to search for evidence of the health and fitness of theater actors. METHODS: Pubmed, EBSCO (CINAHL and SPORTdiscus), the database of the Performing Arts Medicine Association, the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, and Medical Problems of Performing Artists were searched. Included studies had data extracted and were scored for methodological quality. RESULTS: The search identified 18 studies, examining actors at different career stages, including secondary school (n=2), university (n=3), and professional (n=13). Eight studies received a low methodological quality score (50% or less). Most studies reported cigarette smoking among 10–26% of their samples and regular alcohol use in 25–40%. However, among professionals, prevalence and risk of harm from levels of alcohol consumption were much higher. Marijuana consumption was reported by 11–25% of respondents, while use of other drugs ranged from 7–23%. Most respondents suffered 1–2 injuries each year, with one study indicating that 72% of injuries occurred during class or rehearsal. CONCLUSIONS: This systematic literature review highlights a large gap in the research about actors’ health. The high rates of substance use and injuries among actors indicate not only a large health burden but a hindrance to their ability to perform, which may negatively impact their livelihood.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalMedical Problems of Performing Artists
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Theater and Performance Studies
  • Medicine and Health Sciences

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