Two: Work, stress and health: Theories and models

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This chapter discusses how psychosocial factors at work can impact on people’s health, and how such factors have been conceptualised and measured by researchers in this field. Psychosocial factors are likely to have gained in relative importance for public health, at least in industrialised welfare states. Interest in the effects of the psychosocial work environment emerged during the 1960s when studies looked at the effects of long working hours or shift work. The scope of the research has since grown to include job insecurity, job demands, control and resources, perceived fairness and organisational justice, coping, leadership practices, threats of violence, and bullying and discrimination. The chapter also introduces stress theory and provides an overview of the major models of occupational stress used to date.

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