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The OHP Field

What is Occupational Health Psychology?

Occupational Health Psychology is a rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field that focuses on the science and practice of psychology in the promotion and development of workplace health- and safety-related initiatives. Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) researchers and practitioners draw from the domains of public health, preventive medicine, nursing, industrial engineering, law, epidemiology, and psychology (industrial-organizational, social/health, and clinical) to develop sound theory and practice for protecting and promoting the safety, health, and well-being of individuals in the workplace and improving the quality of work life. Research in Occupational Health Psychology focuses on the work environment, the individual, and work/life balance.

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety OHP Website

The Society for Occupational Health Psychology Website

Milestones in the History of Occupational Health Psychology

1966 U.S. Public Health Service recognizes work organization and stress as developing occupational safety and health concerns.
1970 The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Act of 1970 charges NIOSH with the responsibility for investigating behavioral factors and stress as etiologic agents for occupational disease and injury.
1977 A report on Work in America is commissioned by Elliot Richardson, Secretary of Health Education and Welfare.
1988 NIOSH recognizes psychological disorders as leading occupational health risk.
1990 APA and NIOSH begin partnership to promote the new area of occupational health psychology.
1990 APA/NIOSH international conference on Work and Well-Being is held in Washington, DC.
1991 OHP field is formally acknowledged in the American Psychologist.
1992 APA/NIOSH international conference on Stress in the ‘90s is held in Washington, DC.
1993 APA and NIOSH enter into a cooperative agreement to fund post/doctorial training in OHP.
1994-1997 APA and NIOSH fund seven postdocs in occupational health psychology.
1994 The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology is founded.
1995 APA/NIOSH international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Washington, DC.
1996 NIOSH places work organization among its highest research priorities.
1997 APA and NIOSH enter into a cooperative agreement to fund the development of graduate-level-curricula in OHP.
1998-2001 APA and NIOSH fund 11 universities to develop and implement OHP graduate curricula.
1999 First APA/NIOSH international conference on Work, Stress, and Health is held in Baltimore, MD.
1999 The European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology (EA-OHP) is established in Lund, Sweden.
2000 The Journal Work & Stress is associated with the EA-OHP.
2000 International Coordinating Group for Occupational Health Psychology is established.
2001 Twenty-eight OHP stakeholders convene to discuss the future of training efforts in OHP
2005 The Society for Occupational Health Psychology (SOHP) is established in the United States.
2008 SOHP joins with APA and NIOSH in co-sponsoring the Work, Stress, and Health conferences. 
2017 SOHP begins to publish an OHP-focused journal Occupational Health Science. 

Link to our OHP Resources page for more information.


Barling, J., & Griffiths, A. (2011). A history of occupational health psychology. In J.C. Quick & L.E. Tetrick (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health psychology (2nd ed., pp. 21-34). Washington, D.C., American Psychological Association. 

Cox, T., & Tisserand, M. (2006). Editorial: Work & Stress comes of age: Twenty years of occupational health psychology. Work & Stress, 20, 1-5. 

Science Directorate of the American Psychological Association. (2002). Psychological Science Agenda, 15(1), 5.