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Psychosocial aspects of working with video display terminals (VDTs) and employee physical and mental health

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Psychosocial aspects of using video display terminals (VDTs) have been recognized as contributors to employees' mental and physical health problems for more than 15 years. Yet, little has been done by employers to change work organization conditions to improve the psychosocial work environment of VDT users. Thus, psychosocial aspects of work are emerging as one of the biggest problems for VDT users in the late 1990s. This paper explores how psychosocial aspects of VDT work are related to job stress, and their consequences for mental and physical health. Using the research literature, it defines various aspects of work organization and job design that have been shown to be related to VDT users' ill-health. Some of the important work design aspects uncovered include a lack of employee skill use, monotonous tasks, high job demands and work pressure, a lack of control over the job, poor supervisory relations, fear of job loss, and unreliable technology. These are the same job stressors that have been defined as problematic for a variety of blue collar jobs in previous research. Work organization improvements for healthier VDT jobs are proposed. These include organizational support, employee participation, improved task content, increased job control, reasonable production standards, career development, enhanced peer socialization, and improved workstation ergonomics. These organizational improvements are derived from a more detailed organizational strategy for job stress reduction. A model of job redesign through proper 'balancing' of work organization features is discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1997

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