Letter from Peter Schnall


I’ve recently returned from a conference in Medellín Colombia – held September 2nd -5th, 2008 and sponsored by RIPSOL (see below) intended to discuss psychosocialwork factors and their impact on health (the 1st such conference  held in Colombia). The conference focused on the  results of research in Colombia –both etiologic and interventions among workers.

Here are some examples of presentations on stress in specific occupations:

  • Maria Mercedes Fernandez from Colombia– talked about an intervention in a high risk occupation for accidents to change attitudes about taking care of self.
  • A paper by Viviola Gomez from Colombia– presented results about stress conditions in certain occupational groups and the relationship of these condition to mental health.
  • Isabel Marulanda from Colombia – talked about research measuring ERI and Job strain looking at their impact on mental health outcomes.

Other papers were more theoretical dealing with how to measure or develop instruments that help with the evaluation and description of some relationships between stressors and health indicators, while others focused on risk prevention. For example Jorge Roman from Cuba discussed attitudes on the part of workers regarding the demand-control model (that is how people perceive demands and control depending on their personal needs). Another presentation focused on the culture of poverty and its impact on the quality of life at work. A good deal of time and attention was given to what exposures should be measured at the workplace and how to carry out surveillence at the workplace (for both exposures and outcomes).

The conference was sponsored by Ripsol (Reunie Investigadores en Riesgos Psicosociales Laborales (RIPSOL-CYTED) with a grant from CYTED which is providing funding ($45,000 US) from 2006-2010 for educational activities and travel. During the past 2 years RIPSOL has sponsored 38 educational events with over 1400 participants in a number of South American countries. The network has sponsored the publication of 1 book, a 2nd is in press and a 3rd is  in preparation. The goal(s) of the network are to provide education on work and health as well as foster collaboration within and among countries in SA, LA and the Carribean. A website is under construction with plans to incorporate an electronic journal.

There are 10 Mexican researchers listed in the RIPSOL network including Manual Prado and Arturo Juarez Garcia,  who are both working with the UCLA Fogarty Program.

Peter Schnall,
Director, Center for Social Epidemiology

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