This report presents data exploring the relationship between perceived psychological stress and several variables implicated in the etiology of upper extremity cumulative trauma disorders (UECTDs). The sample was 354 workers from three different manufacturing companies. The primary job exposure for the subjects was that they were engaged in jobs that involved repetitious movements of the upper extremities, primarily of the hands and arms. Data collection included a detailed health history, a comprehensive physical examination of the upper extremities, limited electrodiagnostic testing, Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale, Karasek's Job Content Questionnaire, demographic information, and a measurement of repetition. Descriptive analyses, analysis of variance, correlational analyses, and multiple linear regression were used to examine the data. Perceived stress, as measured in this study, was only weakly associated with repetition, job dissatisfaction, and subjective complaints related to UECTDs. In addition, factors generally accepted as related to UECTDs (e.g., repetition, female gender, hormonal influences, and existing medical conditions) were not robust predictors of perceived stress. The major limitation is related to the measurement of perceived psychological stress. Like most psychosocial phenomena, perceived stress is a complex construct, one that is difficult to measure and correlate with health outcomes. Further research is necessary to examine what role, if any, perceived stress may have in the etiology of UECTDs.
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