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Society for Occupational Health Psychology Newsletter 2007 Jan; 1(1):5-6
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has had a longstanding presence in the area of work and stress. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 charged NIOSH with the responsibility for investigating organizational factors, including work organization and psychological stress, as etiologic agents for occupational disease and injury. This charge engendered a vigorous program of job stress research at NIOSH, early products of which included seminal epidemiologic studies of work organization and health, such as the University of Michigan study of job demands and health in 23 occupations (Caplan et al., 1975) and Cobb and Kasl's (1977) investigation of health consequences of job loss. Spurred in part by the dramatic increase in worker compensation claims for job stress in the 1980s, NIOSH recognized stress-related psychological disorders as a leading occupational health risk (Millar, 1984) and proposed a national prevention strategy to address this growing problem (Sauter, Murphy, & Hurrell, 1990). About the same time, work organization problems and job stress were increasingly implicated in the etiology of other new occupational health concerns (e.g., upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders, workplace violence, and indoor air quality complaints). Buoyed by these developments, the NIOSH program on job stress and work organization attained greater prominence, and served as the platform for initiatives by the American Psychological Association (APA) and NIOSH to promote the field of occupational health psychology through a series of conferences, development and funding of OHP-related graduate training, and the founding of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology (Sauter, Hurrell, Roberts-Fox, Tetrick & Barling, 1999). More recently, NIOSH elevated the study of work organization and stress-related disorders to a major Institute-wide Work Organization and Stress Related Disorders (WSD) Program of research under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). NORA was unveiled in 1996 and serves as a research framework for NIOSH and the nation. Under NORA, stakeholders in academia, labor, industry, and professional societies collaborate with government agencies to identify and pursue the most critical issues in workplace safety and health. In 2006 NORA entered a second decade. NIOSH research programs are identified as (1) industry or sector-based programs or (2) programs that cut across multiple industries or sectors-which is the case for the WSD program. The mission of the NIOSH WSD program is to eliminate occupational stress, diseases, injuries, and fatalities in the workforce through a focused program of research and prevention addressing work organization risk factors for these outcomes. The primary thrust of the program is to improve our understanding of how the organization of work is changing, the risks posed by these changes, and ways to reduce the risks. The WSD program encompasses a wide array of research interests, including the improvement of research methods, economic analysis, interventions, and the study of underlying mechanisms. Elements of the NIOSH research portfolio in work organization and stress include: 1. epidemiologic studies to explore how changing organizational practices influence risk factors for job stress and other hazardous exposures at work; 2. development of improved methods and tools for job stress research, including surveillance instruments to better understand how the organization of work is changing; 3. studies to further understand how workplace stress contributes to illness and injury at work, including study of intervening factors and laboratory research of underlying biological mechanisms; 4. investigations of stress in understudied populations, occupations, and sectors; 5. studies to better understand the socioeconomic cost and burden of job stress; and, 6. studies to identify effective multilevel intervention strategies to prevent stress at work. The NIOSH WSD program currently supports 24 intramural research projects and 14 extramural projects that are funded through the NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs. The NIOSH WSD program Coordinator is Steven Sauter. Jeannie Nigam serves as Program Assistant Coordinator. For further information and access to NIOSH reports on job stress and the organization of work, visit the WSD website or the NIOSH Topic Page on Stress at Work
Psychological-stress; Psychological-effects; Psychological-disorders; Job-stress; Work-operations; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Indoor-air-pollution; Indoor-environmental-quality
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Newsletter; Lay Publication
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NIOSH Division
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Society for Occupational Health Psychology Newsletter