Occupational Health

What is Occupational Health Psychology?

  • Occupational health psychology (OHP) is defined as the application of psychological principles to improve employee health and safety and enhance well-being (Sauter & Hurrell, 1999). This field is multi-disciplinary and draws heavily from the fields of public health, ergonomics, occupational medicine and industrial hygiene.
  • Training in OHP began in the early 1990’s, with grants from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). BGSU was among the first schools to be awarded an OHP grant, and OHP training at BGSU began in 1998.
  • Some examples of OHP-related topics include, but are not limited to, the following: assessment and treatment of work-related stress; promotion of and adherence to safety programs; psychological assessment of workplace hazards; employee physical health; emotional labor.
  • For more information, check out the publications listed below, and also see the Research pages.

Why Study Occupational Health Psychology At BG?

Given the hours that most adults and adolescents spend in the workplace, a major public health concern is the relationship between work-related factors and both physical and emotional health. To remain competitive in the applied and academic worlds, graduates of doctoral Psychology programs can benefit immensely from training in the discipline of Occupational Health Psychology (OHP).

BGSU offers several graduate level courses in OHP related topics, including an OHP seminar, Occupational Stress, Work-Family Conflict, Counterproductive Work Behavior, Social Environments of Work, and Health Psychology. In addition, students have the opportunity to get involved with applied projects such as occupational safety assessment and health and wellness programs. BGSU also has an active OHP research group (see below) that provides a great opportunity for students interested in the field of OHP, be it academic or applied.

Occupational Health Psychology Research Group

One of the most beneficial aspects of Bowling Green State University’s Industrial-Organizational Psychology program is its research groups, including the OHP Research Group. The main purpose of the OHP research group is to allow students to become more familiar with and get involved in OHP related research. Meetings, held every few weeks, involve the discussion of new projects, updates on ongoing projects, and requests for collaborators. We also typically review and discuss current OHP related articles and a group member will present their own research ideas or findings. Graduate students from other disciplines and undergraduate students are encouraged to get involved with projects. Current projects focus on employee stress, work-family conflict, safety, incivility, and the psychometric evaluation of stress. Future projects aim to explore areas such as wellness program effectiveness and unique stressors experienced by first responders. For information regarding projects, feel free to contact the student director of the group, Kelsey-Jo Ritter (kritter@bgsu.edu). 

The OHP Research Group offers continuing education to keep students and faculty up-to-date with current issues. Trips to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, guest speakers, and research presentations offer unique perspectives to enhance and direct research. Students also have the opportunity to apply for NIOSH funded research grants through the University of Cincinnati's Education and Research Center Pilot Research Project.  Research from graduate students has been presented at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology annual conference, Academy of Management annual conference, Work, Stress, & Health bi-annual conference, as well as at the Bi-Annual Symposium of the National Occupational Research Agenda. 

For further information, contact Dr. Steve Jex (sjex@bgsu.edu) or Dr. Russell Matthews (ramatth@bgsu.edu)

Pui, S.Y., Sliter, M.T., Wolford, K.A., Jex, S., & McInnerney, J. (2009).  The effect of multiple sources of hostility on mental well-being, burnout, and performance.  NIOSH Education and Research Center Pilot Project Grant. (Direct costs: $7000).

Smith, E.N., McInroe, J., Adelman, M., Fritz, C., & Kain, J.M. (2007). The impact of coping and gender role identification on the work-family interface.  NIOSH  Education and Research Center Pilot Project Grant.  (Direct costs: $5000).

 Yugo, J.E., & J. McInroe, S. Lindinger-Stern, & C. Fritz (2006). Understanding teaching: Determining age-related differences in stressors and resources.

Recent Research Publications and Presentations