Occupational Health Psychology (OHP)

Stressed Out Woman

Welcome to the Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) Homepage. NIOSH has an active interest in promoting the new field of OHP. On this page you will find information about OHP, links to schools that offer graduate-level training in OHP and more.

What is OHP?

Many psychologists have argued that the psychology field needs to take a more active role in research and practice to prevent occupational stress, illness, and injury. This is what the new field of Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) is all about. Although research and practice in OHP may cover a wide range of topics, NIOSH has urged that this new field give special attention to the primary prevention of organizational risk factors for stress, illness, and injury at work. This viewpoint is expressed in the NIOSH-proposed definition of OHP: OHP concerns the application of psychology to improving the quality of work life, and to protecting and promoting the safety, health and well-being of workers. The notion of health protection in this definition refers to intervention in the work environment to reduce worker exposures to workplace hazards, while health promotion refers to individual-level interventions to equip workers with knowledge and resources to improve their health and thereby resist hazards in the work environment. Although both of these types of interventions can be defined as primary prevention, the NIOSH-proposed definition places priority on health protection. OHP is especially concerned with the dramatic transformation of work and employment that has been underway in industrial economies since the 1980s (e.g., flexible employment and production processes), and how changing organizational structures and processes are influencing the health and well-being of workers and their families.

NIOSH – APA Contributions to OHP

In the period 1990-2013, NIOSH and the APA launched a series of initiatives to promote the new field of OHP. Ten international conferences on work, stress and health were convened, the Society for Occupational Health Psychology (SOHP) was established, and the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology was founded. Of special importance, programs have been implemented to support graduate level training in OHP at major universities. These programs have strong interdepartmental linkages which expose psychology students to topics and methods in occupational safety and health, and provide opportunities for practica, or internships in actual workplaces. The core curricula in these training programs usually includes coursework addressing the following topics:

  • Survey of occupational safety and health
  • Job stress theory and mechanisms
  • Organizational risk factors for occupational stress, injury, and illness.
  • Health implications of stressful work, including physical and psychological health, and social and economic outcomes.
  • Organizational interventions (e.g., work redesign) and programs (e.g., employee assistance programs, work-family programs) for reduction of occupational stress, illness and injury.
  • Research methods and practices in public/occupational health and epidemiology.

OHP Graduate Training Programs

Visit the SOHP websiteexternal icon to learn more about SOHP and graduate training in OHP, and OHP conferences.

OHP Listserve

A listserve is a discussion group conducted via electronic mail. The OHPLIST serves as a vehicle for discussion among individuals interested in occupational health psychology.

To subscribe, send the following message to listserv@lists.apa.org:

SUBSCRIBE OHPLIST Jane Doe (change Jane Doe to your name)

After sending this message you will soon receive an email explaining how the OHPLIST works, and how you can participate in the discussion.