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Global Occupational Health$
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Tee L. Guidotti

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380002.001.0001

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Stress and Psychological Factors

Stress and Psychological Factors

(p.199) 11 Stress and Psychological Factors
Global Occupational Health

Tsutomu Hoshuyama

Oxford University Press

Stress can be considered to be a psychological reaction to an imbalance between demand on the worker and the workers' ability to do the job to a satisfactory degree of comfort or expectation. The body's response to stress is the same as the normal response to a threat, the so-called “flight or fight” response. When the threat is not concrete, however, or when it is unavoidable and cannot be fought, the normal response to a threat does not work and causes health problems. There is no one, specific health effect that is always associated with stress. It often acts indirectly by disturbing sleep, worsening the workers' mood, motivating substance abuse and other addictive behaviors, and changing behavior. Special programs to help such people are called employee assistance programs. Positive stress, on the other hand, is a response to challenge that is goal-oriented, shared by the team and within the worker's ability to cope. Stress is now understood to be associated with two job characteristics, the pace of work and the degree of control the worker has over the work task or workplace (known as the Karasek model). Another model is that stress arises when workers feel that their rewards and recognition are too small proportionate to the effort they are making (Siegrist model). Stress reduction techniques can be taught to individual workers in order to reduce their feelings of stress. “Burnout” is a popular term for a debilitating psychological condition in which the worker feels tired, disappointed, unfulfilled and anxious. It occurs in some workers after prolonged periods of stress and a feeling of frustration or lack of accomplishment. Deaths have been attributed to karoshi, an extreme form of burnout observed in Japan.

Keywords:   stress, Karasek model, Siegrist model, sleep disturbance, positive stress, stress reduction, substance abuse, addictive behavior, burnout, employee assistance program

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