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Occupational health psychology - a new specialty field that integrates training in psychology and occupational safety and health.

Sauter-SL; Fox-HR; Colligan-ML; Hurrell-JJ; Schmit-J
ICOH 2002 Oct; :265-266
Organizational and psychosocial factors at work have been increasingly implicated in a variety of health and safety outcomes such as cardiovascular disease and work-related musculoskeletal and psychological disorders. Such effects have attracted special concern in the context of rapid organizational change in today's workplace. However, formal training venues to prepare occupational safety and health professionals to address organizational and psychosocial risk factors for illness and injury are lacking. The Institute of Medicine has recently ranked training of this nature as one of the leading priorities to prepare occupational safety and health professionals for research and practice in the next decade (10M, 2000). Recognizing this training gap, NIOSH entered into a joint project with the American Psychological Association in 1996 to establish graduate level training programs at universities that blend curricula in behavioral science and occupational safety and health-a specialization that has come to be known as "occupational health psychology" (OHP). Thus far, graduate programs and curricula of this nature have been developed at 11 universities in the U.S. under this project. Similar training models have emerged in Europe under the auspices of the European Association for Occupational Health Psychology. These OHP graduate programs are situated mainly in psychology departments, although qualifying criteria require fonnal collaboration of departments and faculty in both the behavioral sciences and in an appropriate public health discipline (e.g., occupational/environmental health; epidemiology; industrial hygiene). Curricula in these programs are designed to expose students in the behavioral sciences to research methods, theory, and topical issues in occupational safety and health and, correspondingly, students in occupational health are exposed to research methods, theory, and relevant topical issues in behavioral science. Examples of topics highlighted in many of these programs include a) organizational risk factors for stress, illness and injury, b) health aspects of stressful work, including physical and psychological health, and social and economic costs, and c) organizational interventions and programs for reduction of stress, illness and injury. In addition to description of program content and curricula, this presentation also discusses obstacles and lessons learned in program development and recruitment of students, and market niches that are developing for students with this form of multidiciplinary training.
Occupational-health; Psychological-factors; Training; Cardiovascular-disease; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Psychological-disorders; Work-environment; Workplace-monitoring; Risk-factors; Safety-measures; Stress; Injuries; Environmental-health-monitoring; Epidemiology; Industrial-hygiene
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Best Practices in Occupational Safety and Health, Education, Training, and Communication: Ideas That Sizzle, 6th International Conference, Scientific Committee on Education and Training in Occupational Health, ICOH, In Cooperation with The International Communication Network, ICOH, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, October 28-30, 2002
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division