Glossary of Terms

Behavioral Risk Factors – Individual behaviors which put people at risk for the development of Cardiovascular Disease. Smoking, alcohol use, obesity and physical inactivity are examples.

Center for Social Epidemiology – The Center for Social Epidemiology is a private non-profit foundation established in 1988, whose purpose is to promote public awareness of the role of environmental and occupational stress in the etiology of psychological disorders and cardiovascular disease. See our About Us page for more information.

Cardiovascular Health Outcomes – Several negative effects on the Cardiovascular System have been found when Job Strain is present and chronic. These include heightened bood pressure, chronically heightened blood pressure or hypertension and heart disease

Effort-Reward Imbalance – This model of work stress was pioneered by Johannes Siegrist and defines threatening job conditions as a “mismatch between high workload (high demand) and low control over long-term rewards.” More information about the Effort-Reward Model can be found here

Emotional Labor – Defined by Muntaner et al (based on the work of Arlie Russell Hochschild), is a term which “describes jobs that require workers to induce or suppress feelings to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others. For example, airline stewards are responsible for managing situations with customers to create a favourable experience for the customer.” More information about Emotional Labor can be found here

FORWARD Study – Firefighter Obesity Research: Workplace Assessment to Reduce Disease (FORWARD) is a 2-year project of the UCI-COEH, funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Award #: 1 R21 OH009911-01) and is supported by Research Associates of the Center for Social Epidemiology. The study will consider the unique working conditions and health behaviors of firefighters who work on a 24 hour-shift system.

Visit the FORWARD Study Website at: http://www.coeh.uci.edu/forward/

Globalization – In the Unhealthy Work website, globalization is explored in terms of its significance to the changing nature of work and its consequences on worker health. More can be found about it here.

Job Control – Refers to employees’ sense of control over their tasks and performance during the workday. Job control is also called ‘‘decision latitude,’’ defined as the combination of decision-making authority and the worker’s opportunity to use and develop skills on the job. (Muntaner, 2006) 

Job Strain – Karasek’s “job strain” model states that the greatest risk to physical and mental health from stress occurs to workers facing high psychological workload demands or pressures combined with low control or decision latitude in meeting those demands. More about the job strain model can be found here, including findings, scales and other job strain models.

Mental Health Outcomes – When stress becomes a prolonged or chronic experience, it can result in psychological distress. A growing body of empirical evidence in the occupational health field is making connections between the way work is organized and burnout, as well as more long-term adverse psychological health outcomes such as chronic anxiety and clinical depression.

Musculoskeletal Disorders – Musculoskeletal disorders include a wide range of inflammatory and degenerative conditions affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, peripheral nerves, and supporting blood vessels. Body regions most commonly involved are the low back, neck, shoulder, forearm, and hand, although recently the lower extremity has received more attention. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are widespread in many countries, with substantial costs and impact on quality of life. Although not uniquely caused by work, they constitute a major proportion of all registered and/or compensable work-related diseases in many countries. More can be found about MSDs here.

Organizational Justice – Defined by Muntaner et al, organizational justice refers to whether or not decision- making procedures are consistently applied, correctable, ethical, and include input from affected parties (procedural justice). It also refers to respectful, considerate and fair treatment of people by supervisors (relational justice). More can be found about organizational justice here.

Person–Environment Fit – The “person–environment fit” model refers to the way in which stress develops when the work environment fails to match the motives of the person, or when the person’s abilities fail to meet the job demands. The model emphasizes ‘‘perceived’’ fit versus ‘‘objective’’ fit. (Muntaner, 2006) 

Psychological Demands – Psychological demands are part of the demands in the demand–control model and part of the effort in the effort–reward imbalance model. Demands refer to the psychological stressors associated with accomplishing work, unexpected tasks and job-related personal conflict. Typical questions about psychological demands measure the pressure of output on the job: ‘‘Does your job require you to work very fast, hard, or to accomplish large amounts of work? Are you short of time?’’

Psychological Risk Factors – Individual psychological characteristics which are particularly problematic when paired with Job Strain. Depression, anxiety, neuroticism (or negative affectivity) and anger  are examples.

Social Class – Extensive research has documented that Cardiovascular Disease is more common not only among people facing work stressors, but also among people of lower social class or socioeconomic position (SEP), for example, lower levels of education, income, or occupational status. One possible explanation for the social class differences in CVD is greater exposure to unhealthy working conditions among lower SEP groups. More on social class can be found here.

Social Support – Social support refers to the various types of support that people receive from others and is usually separated into two distinct categories: emotional and instrumental support. Emotional support is characterized by things that people do for each other that makes them feel cared for and supports feelings of esteem and worthiness. Instrumental support refers to the various types of tangible help that others may provide (i.e. financial support, child-care, etc). More on the importance of social support and health consequences of low social support can be found here

Threat-Avoidant Vigilance – Work that involves continuously maintaining a high level of vigilance in order to avoid disaster, such as loss of human life. This is a feature of a number of occupations at high risk for CVD, e.g., truck drivers, air traffic controllers, and sea pilots. More on threat-avoidant vigilance can be found here.

Work–Family Conflict – According to Muntaner at al, work–family conflict is a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect, causing considerable personal and organizational problems. 



Schnall PL, Dobson M, Rosskam E, Editors Unhealthy Work: Causes, Consequences, Cures. Baywood Publishing, 2009.

C Muntaner, J Benach, W C Hadden, D Gimeno and F G Benavides, A glossary for the social epidemiology of work organisation: Part 1, Terms from social psychologyJ. Epidemiol. Community Health 2006;60;914-916 doi:10.1136/jech.2004.032631

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