1. Multiple individual and organizational barriers make it difficult for occupational health nurses and other providers to understand and handle stress in the workplace. 2. Recent research suggests adverse health effects resulting from occupational stress are more related to the context or conditions of work than workers' characteristics. 3. The ecological approach described in this article provides a means to examine the context in which stress occurs through an analysis of four levels of influence. The levels of influence include the microsystem, the organizational system, the peri-organizational system, and the extra-organizational system. 4. Through a careful analysis using this approach, an identification of the entire spectrum of factors contributing to the occurrence of workplace stressors can be identified, and more effective interventions addressing existing and potential problems related to occupational stress can be developed.
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