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The Role of the Occupational Physician: Coping with the Stress of Change.

Brook A
NIOSH 1978 Apr:93-100
Some aspects of stress that arise within an organization when changes are occurring for reasons originating within the organization itself are discussed, as is the role of the occupational health professional, physician or psychiatrist in the management of this stress. Difficulties due to the process of change may manifest themselves in individuals or in the organization. Some individuals may feel worried, apprehensive or dissatisfied, others may become resentful or lose interest in their jobs, and others may cope by staying away from work for a few days, with or without medical certificates, or by leaving the organization altogether. A few, however, develop definite anxiety symptoms, become clinically depressed, or exhibit psychosomatic reactions. Depending on how long the difficulties associated with the change persist, there may be a gradually rising incidence of these various manifestations and symptoms of stress in the departments involved or such group phenomena as total resistance and active opposition to change. A clinical method for studying stress is described. The effect of change on the average person and some individuals who are particularly vulnerable to change are discussed. The occupational health physician can aid in the identification of these individuals. The psychiatrist should become a true member of the occupational health team, if only on a part-time basis. Industrial physicians and interested psychiatrists should meet regularly as a small study group. If progress is made it might be possible to invite some managers to join what would then become a multidisciplinary group. Another option is for about 8 to 10 industrial physicians to meet weekly with a psychodynamically trained psychiatrist to consider the psychological aspects of the problems the physicians encounter in their daily work. Experience of these different groups in other settings has proved their value for training and support. The prime objective is for the doctor and management to establish a satisfactory working relationship.
NIOSH-Publication; Contract-210-77-0041; Occupational-health; Industrial-hygiene; Occupational-medicine; Psychological-stress; Medical-care; Psychosomatic-medicine; Medical-personnel; Health-science-personnel; Psychological-factors; Psychological-effects; Group-dynamics; Industrial-health;
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings;
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Reducing Occupational Stress
Page last reviewed: January 28, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division