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Work, Stress, and Health: Help Us Plan the Next 25 Years

Posted on by Jessica Streit, MS; Steven Sauter,PhD; Naomi Swanson, PhD; and Jeannie A. S. Nigam, ABD, MS


In May, NIOSH, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology (SOHP) hosted the 11th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health. “Work, Stress, and Health 2015: Sustainable Work, Sustainable Health, Sustainable Organizations” marks 25 years of efforts to advance research and intervention on work-related stress  through the conference series. Planning for the 12th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health—“Work, Stress, and Health 2017: Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities”—is already underway.  The event will take place June 7-10, 2017 in Minneapolis, MN. More details, including the official call for papers, will soon be available at

Research and public attention to work-related stress have clearly increased over the last 25 years.   We know that employers and workers deal on a daily basis with issues related to new technologies, the ever-changing organization of work, precarious employment situations, shiftwork and long work hours, work-life integration, workplace violence and bullying, and other stressful situations on a daily basis.   NIOSH has been at the forefront of research and prevention efforts related to occupational stress, and we continue to maintain a strong research program in this area.  Examples of NIOSH stress-related products are listed below.



We have learned a great deal about what occupational factors contribute to work-related stress and affect employee health and safety. While we have more knowledge about promising intervention strategies to prevent occupational stress, many challenges remain.  For example, the continually changing landscape of work brings new risks and necessitates fresh approaches to prevention.  As we begin to look ahead and strategize for the next 25 years of workplace stress research and practice, we want your help.  What aspects of work-related stress are of particular interest to you?  What do you see as the emerging issues for this field? Help us shape the future of stress research and prevention by providing your input below.  Your comments will be helpful in identifying new research priorities and planning content for the upcoming Work, Stress, and Health conference.  Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.


Jessica Streit, MS; Steven Sauter,PhD;  Naomi Swanson, PhD;  and Jeannie A. S. Nigam, ABD, MS


Ms. Streit is the Assistant Coordinator for the NIOSH Work Organization and Stress-Related Disorders Research Program.

Dr. Sauter is a consultant to the NIOSH Total Worker Health Program.

Dr. Swanson is Chief of the Organizational Science and Human Factors Branch in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology and the Coordinator for the Work Organization and Stress-Related Disorders Cross-Sector Program.

Ms. Nigam is a Program Advisor in the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health

Posted on by Jessica Streit, MS; Steven Sauter,PhD; Naomi Swanson, PhD; and Jeannie A. S. Nigam, ABD, MS

15 comments on “Work, Stress, and Health: Help Us Plan the Next 25 Years”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    The fast pace of technological change in today’s workplace is the area of interest for me, and also the precarious nature of employment for workers who are nearing retirement.
    I think the emerging issues for workplace stress research will be the more temporal nature of employment such as contract and freelance work that afford few benefits, and the continual push for productivity without a corresponding rise in wages and salaries.

    I think it would be helpful to update some of the research and materials available through NIOSH on work stress. Much of the statistical data is at least 12 to 15 years old. The video for example is 12 years old and appears dated. Much of the posted research doesn’t reflect current technology aspects of work stress. I have to believe that the state of research in this field has moved beyond 1999.

    I found that The European Agency for Safety and Health at work has much more robust materials available on this topic while preparing to present this topic to a group of stressed workers undergoing organizational change, but statistics for some aspects are not likely externally valid to US populations. I think it would be helpful for NIOSH to provide updated descriptive statistics on the topic.

    We are in the process of updating many of our products. The NIOSH Quality of Work Life (QWL) survey website will go live later this year and will provide easy access to workplace stress statistics. We will post a comment on this blog when the page is available.

    I am excited to see that NIOSH is interested in doing more research related to stress. While it has been studied greatly in the past, I would like to see more current research on how job control and work locus of control impacts stress levels. We know it does, but what types of interventions could be put in place. We typically target the worker directly to reduce stress, but I would like to see research done on intervention at the management level, after all, that is where job control begins.

    Thanks a lot of informative knowledge you have provided i think people should have such knowledge and its all about interest if you have in something you can reach at its apex knowledge.
    Alizaib Hassan

    I believe that stress and fatigue go hand in hand. Shift work or long hours can create fatigue, thus creating additional mental and physical stress on employees. Both of these conditions increase the likelyhood of inattentiveness, which results in risk.

    Our organization’s primary focus is on the stress associated with public service. We are a transit agency and our drivers face a lot of negativity, tense conversations, escalation & de-escalation and are occasionally physically assaulted. Over time, this stress turns into trauma that affects their ability to interact with anyone in a meaningful manner, whether it’s a passenger on the bus or a coworker or a family member. We need guidance on how to cultivate a highly supportive work environment that also emphasizes accountability. Also, we need guidance on ways to mitigate this stress through possible shift arrangements that reduce exposure to peak stress times during the day.

    I would like to see more of a focus on research into what works and what doesn’t in the workplace i.e. does a focus on resilience reduce the impact of constant change and other stress causing factors. How can workplaces introduce the ones that work, how to measure their impact etc. In Europe there does seem to be more of a focus on the psychosocial risk factors and work organization rather than a pure focus on stress. We know that stress is a normal part of life and work and it is our ability in coping that will impact on our health and wellbeing and that of organizations. With an increase in chronic conditions and poor mental health being one of these, it is forecasted to become the leading cause of workplace absence. How well prepared are we for this?

    Glad to see that NIOSH is including Hospital-based Patient Lifting injury rates in its recently announced enforcement action. However, hoping that Haddon Matrix thinking will prevail and that re-thinking equipment design is part of the solution set. For example, an over-reliance on ceiling lifts as the hospital answer doesn’t address the need that exists in other settings where ceiling lifts are just not going to work, i.e., patient homes, or where the need is temporary as someone recovers, or declines, in their health status in the home. Perhaps think about encouraging equipment design that supports more self-managed transfers through self-actuating lifts, etc. Happy to provide more details, feel free to email me.

    We work with the police, trauma, and stress. While I see research as absolutely essential on stress and PTSD itself, I think we should also look in the other direction as well: Why are there workers who do NOT get stressed? This of course leads to the resilient nature of people and organizations. Resilience may be a personal trait, but it is also a social trait; The work organization plays a big part in the maintenance of resilience of its workforce. Leadership is a key factor here. If we can find those factors which protect workers from stress, we will have taken a huge step in reducing it.

    I see in the newspaper they said that many people have stress but they don’t know. So the important thing is try to relax and you can do meditation.

    Yes, Please lets recognize and target bosses, supervisors, department heads, etc…. to get them to recognize the stress and trauma that they inflict on the very individuals that are doing their work and making them look good. I was just made aware of an individual who went to the doctor with work related stress symptoms who was run through a battery of test for possible heart problems. The test came back negative. All symptoms were work related stress due to disrespectful treatment at work.

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