A biopsychosocial approach to work life issues

Int J Health Serv. 1989;19(4):747-58. doi: 10.2190/01DY-UD40-10M3-CKY4.


This article is based on research carried out in the author's laboratory during the past decades. The central theme is the study of how environmental factors influence health and behavior. The approach is multidisciplinary, focusing on the dynamics of stressful person-environment interactions, viewed from social, psychological, and biomedical perspectives. A biopsychosocial framework for the study of stress and coping at the workplace is outlined. Key notions in the biopsychosocial approach are that endocrine responses to the psychosocial environment reflect its impact on the individual and serve as early warnings of long-term risks. Research on the release of the adrenal hormones, catecholamines and cortisol, in response to different work demands is interpreted in terms of the author's "effort and affect" model. The significance of personal control for achieving a state of effort and positive affect is underscored. Finally, a plea is made for dialogue between researchers in the biopsychosocial field and the employees, their organizations, and management. The dialogue is seen as a tool for translating research results into practical measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Employment*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Leisure Activities
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Sweden