Assessing and improving health in the workplace: an integration of subjective and objective measures with the STress Assessment and Research Toolkit (St.A.R.T.) method
1 Department of Economics, University of Parma, Via Kennedy, Parma, 6 43100, Italy
2 Department of Science Education, University of Bologna, Via Filippo Re, Bologna, 6 40126, Italy
3 Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Occupational Medicine Geriatrics and Nephrology Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9 40138, Bologna, BO, Italy
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2012, 7:18 doi:10.1186/1745-6673-7-18Published: 20 September 2012
The aim of this work was to introduce a new combined method of subjective and objective measures to assess psychosocial risk factors at work and improve workers’ health and well-being. In the literature most of the research on work-related stress focuses on self-report measures and this work represents the first methodology capable of integrating different sources of data.
An integrated method entitled St.A.R.T. (STress Assessment and Research Toolkit) was used in order to assess psychosocial risk factors and two health outcomes. In particular, a self-report questionnaire combined with an observational structured checklist was administered to 113 workers from an Italian retail company.
The data showed a correlation between subjective data and the rating data of the observational checklist for the psychosocial risk factors related to work contexts such as customer relationship management and customer queue. Conversely, the factors related to work content (workload and boredom) measured with different methods (subjective vs. objective) showed a discrepancy. Furthermore, subjective measures of psychosocial risk factors were more predictive of workers’ psychological health and exhaustion than rating data. The different objective measures played different roles, however, in terms of their influence on the two health outcomes considered.
It is important to integrate self-related assessment of stressors with objective measures for a better understanding of workers’ conditions in the workplace. The method presented could be considered a useful methodology for combining the two measures and differentiating the impact of different psychological risk factors related to work content and context on workers’ health.