Occupational stress and work-related upper extremity disorders: concepts and models

Am J Ind Med. 2002 May;41(5):298-314. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10045.


Background: While research has suggested that interventions targeted at occupational stress (job stress) factors may improve clinical and work outcomes related to work-related musculoskeletal disorders, the emerging hypotheses relating occupational stress to work-related upper extremity disorders (WRUEDs) are not particularly well known among occupational health providers and researchers.

Methods: Generic job stress and health models and multivariable models of WRUEDs were described and evaluated.

Results: Models on occupational stress and health/WRUEDs offer unique perspectives on the role of occupational stressors on WRUEDs. However, the limited support for the structure and proposed mechanisms of these models suggest that investigations examining and validating proposed biobehavioral pathways are still needed.

Discussion: Difficulties in conceptualizing occupational stress have, in the past, hindered its systematic incorporation into occupational health research and prevention/intervention strategies. The present paper provides a common basis for researchers and practitioners with diverse backgrounds to understand job stress and its relation to WRUEDs in order to enhance future efforts. Given the present limitations in the field and the need for comprehensive approaches to WRUEDs, there is great potential for occupational health researchers and clinicians to advance knowledge in this area.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arm / innervation
  • Arm Injuries / prevention & control
  • Arm Injuries / psychology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / prevention & control
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / psychology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Workload / psychology*