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Am Psychol. 1990 Oct;45(10):1142-5.

Occupational stress. Spice of life or kiss of death?

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Department of Stress Research/WHO Psychosocial Centre, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Work-related psychosocial stressors originate in social structures and processes, affect the human organism through psychological processes, and influence health through four types of closely interrelated mechanisms--emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and physiological. The health outcome is modified by situational (e.g., social support) and individual factors (e.g., personality, coping repertoire). The work-environment-stress-health system is a dynamic one with many feedback loops. There is little but increasing direct evidence of a causal relationship between work-related psychosocial stressors and the incidence and prevalence of occupational morbidity and mortality. But, a substantial body of indirect evidence strongly suggests that such associations exist and emphasizes the need to better understand their role. Accordingly, research and health action should aim at being systems-oriented, interdisciplinary, intersectorial, health- (and not only disease-) oriented, and participative.

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