BACKGROUND: Work-related stress is a major problem for mental health. The occupational physician has the opportunity to gather information on the perception of stress from workers in the course of regular medical examinations. METHOD: 1,231 subjects, engaged in 6 different occupations, were invited to compile the demand/control/support and the effort/reward/imbalance questionnaire. RESULTS: A specific profile of work-related stress emerged for each group of workers. Radiology physicians were found to have the highest levels of self-perceived stress and the highest percentage of subjects at risk of distress; they reported high control over work, but also exceedingly high demand and effort, high over- commitment, low social support and low rewards from work. Health care workers were often overcommitted but had high levels of reward and social support; in general hospital workers, effort was higher and control lower than in workers in a hospital specializing in infectious diseases, so that stress levels and percentage of subjects at risk of distress were higher. Low levels of social support and reward were recorded for mature workers , while special force policemen engaged in law enforcement during the G8 meeting had high levels of social support and regards, so that their resulting stress levels were closer to the reference group of employees in an insurance company with no front-office. CONCLUSION: The practice of administering questionnaires to groups of workers who are subject to medical surveillance is useful for monitoring mental health and well-being.
- social psychiatry, occupational health, work-related stress, demand, control, support, effort, reward, overcommitment, job strain, effort/reward imbalance