Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) involves the interdisciplinary partnerships of psychological and occupational health science professionals seeking to improve the quality of working life, and enhance the safety, health and well-being of workers in all occupations. Because it exists at the intersection of behavioral science and occupational health disciplines, OHP is inclusive of knowledge and methods from psychology, public/occupational health, organizational studies, human factors, and allied fields (such as occupational sociology, industrial engineering, economics, and others).
Occupational Health Psychology is concerned with the broad range of exposures and mechanisms that affect the quality of working life and the responses of workers. These include individual psychological attributes, job content and work organization, organizational policies and practices, and the economic and political environments in which organizations function. OHP research and practice explores interventions targeting the work environment as well as the individual, to create healthier workplaces and organizations and to improve the capacity of workers to protect their safety and health and to maximize their overall effectiveness.
Milestones in the History of Occupational Health Psychology
- 1966 - U.S. Public Health Service recognizes work organization and stress as developing occupational safety and health concerns.
- 1970 - The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Act of 1970 charges NIOSH with the responsibility for investigating behavioral factors and stress as etiologic agents for occupational disease and injury.
- 1977 - A report on "Work in America " is commissioned by Elliot Richardson, Secretary of Health Education and Welfare.
- 1988 - NIOSH recognizes psychological disorders as leading occupational health risk.
- 1990 - APA and NIOSH begin partnership to promote the new area of occupational health psychology.
- 1990 - APA/NIOSH international conference on Work and Well-Being is held in Washington, DC.
- 1991 - OHP field is formally acknowledged in the American Psychologist.
- 1992 - APA/NIOSH international conference on Stress in the '90s is held in Washington, DC.
- 1993 - APA and NIOSH enter into a cooperative agreement to fund post/doctoral training in OHP.
- 1994 -1997 APA and NIOSH fund seven postdocs in occupational health psychology.
- 1994 - The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology is founded.
- 1995 - APA/NIOSH international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Washington, DC .
- 1996 - NIOSH places work organization among its highest research priorities.
- 1997 - APA and NIOSH enter into a cooperative agreement to fund the development of graduate-level-curricula in OHP.
- 1998-2001 - APA and NIOSH fund 11 universities to develop and implement OHP graduate curricula.
- 1999 - APA/NIOSH international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Baltimore, MD.
- 2000 - International Coordinating Group for Occupational Health Psychology is established.
- 2001 - Twenty-eight OHP stakeholders convene to discuss the future of training efforts in OHP.
- 2003 - APA/NIOSH international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Toronto, ONT.
- 2004 - Society for Occupational Health Psychology formed.
- 2006 - APA/NIOSH international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Miami, FL.
- 2008 - APA/NIOSH/SOHP international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Washington, DC.
- 2009 - APA/NIOSH/SOHP international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- 2011 - APA/NIOSH/SOHP international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Orlando, FL.
- 2012 - First Summer Institute for Occupational Health Psychology is held in Portland, OR
Sources: Science Directorate of the American Psychological Association. (2002). Psychological Science Agenda, 15 (1), 5; Society for Occupational Health Psychology