10 Jun 2022


Occupational Health Psychology

Format: APA

Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 1007

Pages: 4

Downloads: 0

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) is defined as the application of psychology in the improvement of the quality of work life and the protection and promotion of health, well-being, and safety of workers (Fox, 2002). Occupational Health Psychology refers to the multi-disciplinary research and practice that is focused on enhancing the working lives of families, communities, families, and organizations. For these goals to be addressed in psychology, industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology, health, and clinical health psychological principles, have to be combined. Likewise, OHP signifies the application of psychological ideologies to manage health and stress within work organizations. The ideological basis of OHP is borrowed from the World Health Organization (WHO), whereby wellness is not defined by the mere lack of disease, but rather the state of complete mental, social and physical well-being. Therefore, creation and maintenance of safe and healthy work environments require emphasis on some factors. These include psychological, physical/biology and social (Quick & Tetrick, 2003). In OHP, the emphasis is placed on three areas. First, it focusses on preventing the adverse effects of exposures that may occur in the workplace. The promotion of healthy organizational and personal behaviors and actions forms its second area of emphasis. Lastly, OHP responds to crises and exposures promptly when they occur at the workplace.

Annually, approximately 3.3 million workers in the United States (US) suffer from occupational injuries and are treated (Sauter et al., 1999). On the other hand, more than 5000 workers die annually from injuries that are sustained on the job. Further, about 862,000 workers are affected by occupational diseases annually, with 50-60 thousand of the sick succumbing to the illness. When put into perspective, the annual loss from occupational disease and injury in the US is more than the deaths resulting from prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer, firearms, AIDS and motor vehicle accidents. The yearly financial costs of occupation illness and injury in the U.S have been estimated to be more than the cost of treating the Alzheimer's disease, and equivalent to the costs of circulatory disease, cancer and all musculoskeletal disorders (Slauter et al., 1999). This backdrop has been the basis for the rising interest in psychology’s role in preventing and understanding occupational illness and injury in the workplace (Quick & Tetrick, 2003). 

It’s time to jumpstart your paper!

Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.

Get custom essay

The emergence and history of OHP 

For much of the twentieth century, the inquiry into the impact of workplace policies and practices, leadership and supervision on employee's psychological and physical wellbeing attracted immense attention. However, the importance of the non-physical characteristics of work, and their impact on an individual's physical and psychological health were recognized in the nineteenth century, most notably after the Industrial Revolution (Barling & Griffiths, 2003). The concerns were well documented in the most developed fields of politics, philosophy, art, sociology and literature. Writers like Friedrich Engels and Karl Max were the earliest proponents of the idea that psychological and physical problems suffered by workers were linked to the organization of work and its associated physical and social environment. Despite their warning, the idea did not gain scientific attention until the mid-twentieth century in the U.S and Northern Europe (Barling & Griffiths, 2003). It is from this development that OHP as we know it emerged. 

Numerous advancements in the past few decades have assisted in defining a bigger role for psychologists in the field of occupational health and safety. One such development is the emergence and rise of the wellness movement of the 1960’s and 70’s (Sauter et al., 1999). This led to the growth in the involvement of psychologists in the design as well as delivery of employee stress management, assistance and promotion of health (in the form of health screening and education, and employee fitness) at the workplace. In the occupational health and safety field, psychologists were tasked to develop sub-specialty areas. These areas included behavioral safety and toxicology. However, the most significant use of psychology was its fusion into the field of occupational health and safety. This fusion was the basis for OHP's emergenceof OHP, including other interrelated advancements. These improvements included recognition and growth of stress-related psychological illnesses such as occupational health challenges. Secondly, there was growing approval of the fact that psychological factors play a fundamental role in causing emerging occupational health and safety problems like extremity musculoskeletal ailments. Lastly, there were dramatic changes in the organization of work, which were likely to result in stress, safety and health challenges at work. 

Understanding OHP in r elat ion to I-O P sychology 

Industrial-organizational psychology is the scientific study of human behavior as it is applied in the workplace (Wikis, 2014). This field applies psychological principles and theories to organizations. Occupational health psychology combines I-O psychology with other health related psychology areas such as clinical and counseling psychology, as well as other disciplines. Occupational Health Psychology and I-O psychology are therefore interdependent and complementary. This is because OHP incorporates some element of I-O psychology while operationalization of I-O psychology recognizes OHP. For instance, training on OHP is recognized as a core component of I-O psychology. 

In a meeting held in 2002 to discuss OHP as an emerging field, there was agreement that I-O psychologists were positioned to play a critical role in the development of OHP. This is because they already, knowingly and unknowingly, had been engaged in OHP research, practice and training through their efforts in occupational stress, employee well-being and workplace safety (Fox, 2002). The noted lack of awareness can be attributed to the fact that there is a thin line between the two disciplines. 

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists are skilled in areas that are relevant to OHP. Some of these areas include job design, employee assessment, and training. Conversely, the tasks handled by OHP psychologists are viewed as natural extensions of the historical emphasis of counseling psychology on assessment, career development, vocational psychology, therapeutic interventions, and problem-solving of common development issues. Due to the growing interest in OHP, incorporation of OHP-focused graduate courses in universities is also increasing. According to NIOSH, these programs are often extensions of the existing I-O as well as other psychological programs. Overall, opportunities created by OHP are varied. Consequently, it's hard to identify OHP specialists do since they possess skills in multiple areas, including I-O psychology.


The need for improvement of the quality of work life, and protection and promotion of health, well-being and safety of workers is more important now than ever before. This need was the basis of the emergence of OHP in the mid-twentieth century. This field is closely related to the field of I-O Psychology. The two disciplines are interdependent and complementary. In one scenario OHP incorporates some elements of I-O psychology while operationalization of I-O psychology recognizes OHP. Therefore, I-O psychologists are positioned to play a critical role in the growth and development of OHP. The projected increase in OHP specialists is hence expected to strengthen I-O psychology as a whole. 


Barling, J., & Griffiths, A. (2003). A history of occupational health psychology. In Q. James & T, Lois (Eds), Handbook of occupational health psychology (pp. 19-31). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Fox, H., & Spector, P.E. (2002). Occupational health psychology - I-O psychologists meet with interdisciplinary colleagues to discuss this emerging field. The industrial-organizational psychologist, 39(4). 

Quick, J. C., & Tetrick, L. E. (2003). Prevention at work: public health in occupational settings. In Q. James & T, Lois (Eds), Handbook of occupational health psychology (pp. 3-17). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Sauter, L.S., Harrel Jr, J.J., Fox, H.R., Tetrick, L & Barling, J. (1999). Occupational health psychology: An emerging discipline. Industrial Health , 37, 199-211. 

Wikis, A. (2014). Industrial and organizational psychology. 

Cite this page

Select style:


StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Occupational Health Psychology.


Related essays

We post free essay examples for college on a regular basis. Stay in the know!

19 Sep 2023

How to Do a SWOT Analysis for Your Business

Running head: SWOT ANALYSIS 1 SWOT Analysis Strengths Strong communication skills Strong creativity and analytical skills I am able to think critically I have emotional intelligence, which helps me to relate...

Words: 284

Pages: 1

Views: 74

19 Sep 2023

Letter of Consent for Research Study

Running head: LETTER OF CONSENT 1 Letter of Consent for Research Study Dear (Participant’s Name): You are invited to participate in a research study on the Routine Activity theory and the hypothesis that the lack...

Words: 283

Pages: 1

Views: 359

17 Sep 2023

Mental Representations and the Mind-Brain Relationship

Often, contemporary controversies underlie the interpretation of the mental representations and the mind-brain relationships through concepts such as monolism, dualism and exclusivity. In my view, the dualism concept...

Words: 1796

Pages: 7

Views: 168

17 Sep 2023

Building a Healthy Marriage

Although sometimes marriage can be problematic, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences for couples. For instance, couples in a satisfying marriage enjoy happiness, a long and enjoyable life, personal...

Words: 1266

Pages: 5

Views: 344

17 Sep 2023

Devastating Impacts of Domestic Violence

The issue of domestic violence is a growing concern in the present society. Women serve as the key victims of domestic violence, although men and children also feel the devastating effects as well. When couples are...

Words: 2437

Pages: 9

Views: 77

17 Sep 2023

How Emotions Affect Marketing and Sales

The most appealing advertisements use the audience’s emotions as their leverage. They instill fear and the psychology of pain, moderately, to their subjects and use that to their advantage. To remain ethical, most of...

Words: 1113

Pages: 4

Views: 96


Running out of time?

Entrust your assignment to proficient writers and receive TOP-quality paper before the deadline is over.