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Expanding Our Understanding of the Psychosocial Work Environment


February 2008
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2008-104
cover page for document 2008-104

There is broad recognition that the psychosocial environment at work can affect physical and mental health as well as organizational outcomes such as work performance and effectiveness. This has been the focus of publications, recommendations and conferences developed by the NORA Organization of Work Team ). Past research across several disciplines has revealed that gender- and race-related factors such as values, biases, harassment, discrimination, and lack of support for work-family balance can affect physical and mental health. However, these features of the work environment have rarely been included simultaneously with the study of other workplace conditions. Thus, knowledge is still very limited about correlations among them, as well as about potential confounding and interactions. This document is targeted to occupational safety and health researchers interested in evaluating the role of discrimination, bias and work-family issues in occupational injuries and illness. It will also be of interest to other health researchers interested in questions of the impact of workplace discrimination and bias on health.

To develop this compendium, the researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, through a contract with NIOSH, scanned the formal literature broadly to identify and disseminate information on measures used by researchers to assess the following domains:

  • racism and racial/ethnic prejudice
  • sexism and sexual harassment
  • gender and racial discrimination
  • work-family integration and balance
  • support for diversity in the workplace/workforce

Expanding Our Understanding of the Psychosocial Work Environment [PDF – 3 MB]