Longitudinal studies in organizational stress research: a review of the literature with reference to methodological issues

J Occup Health Psychol. 1996 Apr;1(2):145-69. doi: 10.1037//1076-8998.1.2.145.


Demonstrating causal relationships has been of particular importance in organizational stress research. Longitudinal studies are typically suggested to overcome problems of reversed causation and third variables (e.g., social desirability and negative affectivity). This article reviews the empirical longitudinal literature and discusses designs and statistical methods used in these studies. Forty-three longitudinal field reports on organizational stress were identified. Most of the investigations used a 2-wave panel design and a hierarchical multiple regression approach. Six studies with 3 and more waves were found. About 50% of the studies analyzed potential strain-stressor (reversed causation) relationships. In about 33% of the studies there was some evidence of reverse causation. The power of longitudinal studies to rule out third variable explanations was not realized in many studies. Procedures of how to analyze longitudinal data are suggested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Occupational Health*
  • Psychology, Industrial
  • Research Design
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Workload