The Evaluation of Psychosocial Risks: An Emerging Issue? And its Prevention... A Postponed Issue?

  • Liliana Cunha Center for Psychology, University of Porto, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto
  • Carla Barros Fernando Pessoa University, Porto, Portugal
Keywords: Employment and Working conditions; Risk Assessment; Diagnosis; Intervention


Psychosocial risks, its diagnosis and better understanding, have, in recent years, occupied a central place in the societal debates, setting new demanding to the ones involved in the
field of occupational safety and health. In line with this, the concerns of evaluation and diagnosis of psychosocial risk factors boosted the development of several questionnaires,
their widespread dissemination, and even their “exportation”, not always sensitive to the specificities of local realities. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the methods of
“diagnosis” and the type of prevention practices, taking into account the comparison of two surveys in this area and the theoretical and epistemological approaches that underlie them:
(i) the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ) and (ii) the Health and Work Survey (INSAT). The results reinforce the importance of a contextualized approach in work
situations, as well as in the perspective of the workers themselves about the risks to which they are exposed to - beyond what is, or not, significant from the statistical point of view, or
what can be normatively defined as an “acceptable risk”.

Author Biographies

Liliana Cunha, Center for Psychology, University of Porto, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto

Liliana Cunha

Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, and Invited Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Engineering, at the University of Porto, Portugal.  She concluded her PhD in Work Psychology, in 2012, at the University of Porto, with a thesis entitled “Mobilities, territories and public service: debates over the collective interest at the margins of the paradigm of a mobile society”. Her main research interests focus on public transport mobility and, on the other hand, on the relationships between work and health: she has participated in research projects involving the social partners; and devoted special attention to the design of instruments that support the analyses of the impact of work on health. She is involved also in a critically analysis of inclusion and exclusion processes at the workplace, for example, according to health state or gender issues, following an approach that necessarily goes beyond the level of the company. Another research interest concerns the relations between work, territories, and developments, considering the work in its territorial constellation and the intervention of the work psychologist as a local and regional development promoter. She is also member of the Direction of Laboreal, an international and interdisciplinary academic journal that publishes papers (in Portuguese and Spanish) focusing on the real work activity.

Carla Barros, Fernando Pessoa University, Porto, Portugal

Carla Barros

Associate Professor at Fernando Pessoa University, and lecturer at the undergraduate/master degree in Psychology. She holds a PhD in Psychology at the University of Porto in 2004 where she also completed the degree in Psychology and the Masters in Work Psychology and Organizations. Coordinator of the Graduation/Masters in Psychology: Clinical and Health Psychology, Educational Psychology and Community Intervention, and Work and Organization Psychology, at University Fernando Pessoa, between 2009 and 2012. Lecturer: Post-Graduation in People Management at Porto Business School (EGP - UPB) (between 2010 and 2013). At present, she integrates the direction of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as the Coordinator of the Behavior and Political Sciences Department; In addition, she is the Coordinator of the Post-graduation in Personnel Management at Fernando Pessoa University. In the scientific domain, Carla Barros has worked primarily in the areas of management and development of people management practices, focusing her research interests on the quality of work life. Special emphasis has been given to the field of occupational health, especially to the relationship between work and health, and wellness promotion and prevention management, gender and work. She collaborated on research projects in this field, by publishing articles and other publications, as well as by participating in the construction of instruments to assess relations between health, wellbeing and work.


Available in the full paper.