Medical prevention of stress

Project No. FFFP 0215


completed 09/2004


Development and evaluation of a diagnosis of psychological stress and strain suitable for occupational medicine


Selection of parameters; evaluation of correlated methods (practicability, efficiency), test and validation with employees of a proper profession


In essence, the project's objectives were achieved: the three research tools - medical examination, psychometric tests and the endocrine marker - are practicable in terms of the required time and effort and their acceptability, and they generally provide coherent results and correlations. External validation using data on prospective susceptibility to a disease was not intended within the limited scope of this research project.

The psychometric questionnaire and the summarised version devised by dimensional reduction both produce factors that correspond to dimensions of stress described in the literature, and explain a sufficient degree of inter-individual variance.

The good separation of factor loadings furthermore demonstrates that there are no fundamental overlaps. Each individual factor therefore contributes to the achieved results. The factors are thus suitable for providing a general evaluation of work-related mental strain.

The cortisol protocol tested here is practicable and has proven its value in numerous other studies by other research groups, where it was used in a similar form. Correlations between cortisol and factors in the screening tool were low in the total sample and appeared to be mainly coincidental. Within the groups, however, medium to strong correlations were observed, thus indicating that psychometric (group) characteristics actually are accompanied by cortisol reactions. The fact that there was no consistent pattern for the entire sample might, for example, be due to heterogeneity of factors and groups. However, the fact that cortisol represents the unspecific neuro-endocrine strain reaction to a critical stress level, in which the type of stress and the resulting mental strain no longer play a role, should be discussed. As a risk-oriented stress diagnosis cannot be concluded in retrospect, neither from stress characteristics nor from mental strain characteristics, a biological marker, such as cortisol, is indispensable to be able to do so.


Marquard, E.; Bernhardt, A.; Hölzl, R.; Möltner, A.; Weber, V.: Examination of individual risk constellations caused by psychological and mental factors at work. Summary of the final report (PDF, 96 kB) for downloading

Last Update:



Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
  • Rheinischer Gemeinde-Unfallversicherungsverband
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftlicher Arbeitsmedizinischer Dienst, Bonn
  • Otto-Selz-Institut, Universität Mannheim
  • Berufsgenossenschaft Nahrungsmittel und Gaststätten, Mannheim

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

mental stress factors


Arbeitsmedizinische Vorsorge, Psychische Beanspruchung/Belastung, Stress

Description, key words:

stress, risk factor