Indexed on: 02 Aug '06Published on: 02 Aug '06Published in: Health promotion international
The enormous human and economic costs associated with occupational stress suggest that initiatives designed to prevent and/or reduce employee stress should be high on the agenda of workplace health promotion (WHP) programmes. Although employee stress is often the target of WHP, reviews of job stress interventions suggest that the common approach to combating job stress is to focus on the individual without due consideration of the direct impacts of working conditions on health as well as the effects of working conditions on employees' ability to adopt and sustain 'healthy' behaviours. The purpose of the first part of this paper is to highlight the criticisms of the individual approach to job stress and to examine the evidence for developing strategies that combine both individual and organizational-directed interventions (referred to as the comprehensive approach). There is a risk that WHP practitioners may lose sight of the role that they can play in developing and implementing the comprehensive approach, particularly in countries where occupational health and safety authorities are placing much more emphasis on identifying and addressing organizational sources of job stress. The aim of the second part of this paper is therefore to provide a detailed description of what the comprehensive approach to stress prevention/reduction looks like in practice and to examine the means by which WHP can help develop initiatives that address both the sources and the symptoms of job stress.