Effects of Psychological Interventions on Performance Anxiety in Performing Artists and Athletes : A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis

Levels of state and trait anxiety are relevant for performing artists and professional athletes to obtain optimal performance outcomes. However, evidence-based knowledge regarding the effectiveness of psychological interventions on performance anxiety is currently minimal. Thus, the objective of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to characterize, aggregate, and quantify intervention effects on measures of state and trait performance anxiety in performing artists and professional athletes. A systematic search of the literature according to the PRISMA guidelines was conducted on the databases PubMed, Medline, SPORTDiscus, PsycInfo, Embase, and Web of Science from 1 January 1960 to 9 November 2022. The search only included controlled studies employing pre–post measures and excluded performing arts fields that do not depend on fine motor skills. Initially, 1022 articles were identified; after removing duplicates and assessing abstracts and full texts, 20 articles were used to calculate weighted standardized mean differences (SMDs). In terms of state performance anxiety, our results revealed a large overall effect (SMD = 0.88), a medium effect (SMD = 0.62) for studies using scales with total scores (i.e., MPAI-A, STAI), and large effects (cognitive anxiety: SMD = 0.93, somatic anxiety: SMD = 0.92, self-confidence: SMD = 0.97) for studies applying scales with sub-scores (i.e., CSAI-2R)—all in favour of the intervention groups. Regarding trait performance anxiety (e.g., SCAT), we detected a small effect (SMD = 0.32), also favouring the intervention groups. Interventions to reduce performance anxiety in performing artists and professional athletes revealed varying levels of effectiveness ranging from small (trait) to large (state). Therefore, future studies should investigate modalities to increase intervention efficacy, especially for the small-sized changes in trait performance anxiety.


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