Worker Health: Work as a Social Determinant of Health

2020 Fall Symposium

Date: Friday, November 13, 2020
Time: 7:45 AM - 3 PM PT
Location: WebEx/Virtual Webinar (email us with questions)


Sponsored by the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health SciencesOregon Healthy Workforce Center, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)-Portland State University (PSU) School of Public Health and Portland State University Occupational Health Psychology Program.


Social determinants of health are conditions in the environment that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. According to the World Health Organization: “The social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” Work, and its associated conditions, is one of the key social determinants of health. Work is also impacted by other social determinants of health such as education, access to healthcare, and economic status of one’s family.  Work, as a social determinant of health, has received attention in the Public Health field, and specifically in the area of Occupational Health. Within the backdrop of the COVID-19 global pandemic and a public health crisis of systemic racism, this symposium will focus on the varying ways that social determinants of health have both affected, and are affected by WORK.  We will aim to understand the root causes of social determinants of health through the lens of the opportunities and conditions of work that shape our everyday lives. Highlighting the issue of work as a social determinant of health will lead to understanding ways of changing population health through our employment institutions. This will ultimately lead to improved health and well-being of workers and their families, especially those who are marginalized, in low-income households, and less advantaged due to other social determinants of health.

Course Objectives

Attendees will be able to:

  • Describe examples of social determinants of health and how they impact population health.
  • Explain how work and its associated opportunities and conditions impact population health. 
  • Describe how work intersects with other social determinants of health.
  •  Develop actionable strategies to improve psychosocial working conditions in their workplace.
  • Detail ways in which organizations can help vulnerable workers to improve worker health and well-being


$20 online - Register online now


Please log on at 7:45 AM to ensure we can begin promptly at 8 AM.


We will be offering Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for this event. Oregon Healthy Workforce Center is recognized by SHRM to offer PDCs for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. This program is valid for 5.25 PDCs for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. The SHRM Activity ID will be issued during the virtual event.  To learn more about SHRM recertification, visit For more information about this event's PDCs or if you require a certificate of completion for continuing education purposes, please email For example, a certificate of completion can be produced for other CE needs including those for Certified Industrial Hygienists.

OHWC SHRM Recertification Provider 2020 Smaller logo

Course Directors, Leslie B. Hammer, Ph.D. & Dawn M. Richardson, DrPH, MPH

Course Directors:

Leslie B. Hammer, Ph.D.
Professor, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences

Co-Director, Oregon Healthy Workforce Center
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
Associate Director, Portland State University, Occupational Health Psychology Program

Dawn M. Richardson, DrPH, MPH (She/her)
Incoming Associate Dean for Social Justice
Associate Professor
OHSU-PSU Joint School of Public Health

Rada K. Dagher, Ph.D., M.P.H., Keynote Speaker
Rada K. Dagher, PhD, MPH

Rada K. Dagher, Ph.D, MPH, Scientific Program Director at National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities

Work is a social determinant that may explain a considerable amount of health disparities for race/ethnic minority and low socioeconomic status populations, in addition to other populations affected by health disparities. However, this complex construct with complex mechanisms and pathways has, to date, been under researched in the context of health disparities research. This talk will present the state of the science for research on work and health disparities, challenges in studying the construct of work as a social determinant of health, potential mechanisms and pathways through which work may contribute to health disparities, and opportunities for moving this field of research forward.

Bio: Dr. Rada Dagher is a Scientific Program Director at NIMHD. She manages a diverse portfolio of research, capacity building, and training grants, and is a project scientist on several cooperative agreement awards. Dr. Dagher is the program director for the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowships as well as the Mentored Career Development Awards and represents NIMHD on multiple NIH-wide committees including NRMN/BUILD (National Research Mentoring Network/Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity). Prior to joining NIMHD, Dr. Dagher worked in academia where she conducted research in maternal and child health, mental health, occupational health, and health disparities. Her research focused on the determinants of postpartum depression and the impact of this disorder on healthcare use. She also studied the impact of employment policies and psychosocial work organization on workers’ mental and physical health, and gender and racial/ethnic disparities in mental health and mental health services. She has amassed numerous publications in prestigious journals. Dr. Dagher’s education in public health began at the American University of Beirut where she received both her BS in Environmental Health and MPH degrees. She then obtained a PhD in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Dagher has earned numerous accolades including being inducted in the Delta Omega Honorary Society of Public Health and being selected for the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. She also received the American Public Health Association’s Young Professional Award for her contributions and leadership in science, program, and policy relating to the health of women, children, and families.

Paul Spector is a distinguished emeritus professor in the School of Information Systems and Management, and the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida (USF)
Paul Spector, PhD

Paul Spector, PhD, Emeritus Professor in the School of Information Systems and Management, and the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida (USF)

Work is an essential part of most people’s lives that fulfills important needs. Many workplaces allow people to thrive both professionally and personally, but too many fail to create a safe environment that reduces health risks. In this presentation I will discuss the major risks to physical and psychological health, including injuries and illness due to unsafe working conditions, musculoskeletal issues due to repetitive strain, job stress, and workplace violence. The building of a physically and psychologically safe organizational climate to minimize unsafe conditions will be discussed.

Bio: Paul Spector is a distinguished emeritus professor in the School of Information Systems and Management, and the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida (USF). He was a professor of industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology at USF for 38 years and served as the I-O doctoral program director for 15 years. For 13 years he was director of the USF Occupational Health Psychology doctoral program, funded by NIOSH as part of the Sunshine Education and Research Center. His research on a variety of topics in occupational health psychology have appeared in major journals, including Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Occupational Health Science, and Work & Stress where he is an associate editor.    

Jennifer K Dimoff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Affiliate Faculty of Portland State University
Jennifer K. Dimoff, PhD

Jennifer K Dimoff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Affiliate Faculty of Portland

Dr. Dimoff will present research findings, in combination with actionable insights, related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on employee mental health.  Her presentation will explore a variety of conditions that affect employee health and wellbeing, such as leadership, location (e.g., U.S. and Canada), experiences in the workplace, vulnerability to infection (e.g., age) and work-family responsibilities.

Bio: Dr. Dimoff is an Assistant Professor in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management at the Telfer School of Business at the University of Ottawa.  Prior to joining the faculty at Telfer, Dr. Dimoff spent three years at Portland State University, where she maintains status as an Affiliate Faculty member. Dr. Dimoff’s primary area of research focuses on the intersections between leadership, occupational health and safety, and employee training and development. She has worked with local, national, and international organizations to develop, deliver, and evaluate evidence-based solutions to real workplace problems.

Toni Alterman, PhD, Senior Research Epidemiologist, CDC, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Toni Alterman, PhD

Toni Alterman, PhD, Senior Research Epidemiologist, CDC, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The presentation will focus on the relationships between supervisor trust, an important aspect of workplace the workplace environment, and  seven cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (American Heart Association Life’s Simple 7 (LS7)): smoking, obesity, low physical activity, poor diet, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Data are from the U.S. Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index (2010–2012), a nationally representative telephone survey of U.S. workers (n = 412,884).

Bio: Dr. Toni Alterman is a Senior Epidemiologist in the Division of Field Studies and Engineering at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati, OH. She has both a masters and PhD in social psychology, with a minor in organizational behavior, and an MS in epidemiology, with an emphasis on psychiatric epidemiology. Prior to coming to NIOSH, 28 years ago, Dr. Alterman was on the faculty of the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health in Houston Texas. She first conducted research on cancer and cardiovascular disease epidemiology but moved on to focus on social and psychiatric epidemiology with an emphasis on mental health, work organization, workplace psychosocial factors, and recently, nonstandard work, particularly as it relates to gender, nativity and race or ethnic differences. She has been awarded several diversity awards and received funding to work on developing research and survey questions in collaboration with multiple federal agencies, National Agricultural Workers Survey with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA), a survey of farm managers with the United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA/NASS), research on truck drivers in collaboration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, (FMCSA) and adding occupational health questions to the National Health Interview Survey, CDC National Center for Health Statistics (CDC, NCHS). She was a member of the American Public Health Association leadership team in epidemiology for 14 years and serves in an advisory capacity on multiple committees and workgroups.

Paul A. Landsbergis
Paul A. Landsbergis, PhD, MPH

Paul A. Landsbergis, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, State University of New York (SUNY)-Downstate Health Sciences University School of Public Health

This presentation will review trends (primarily from the U.S.) in employment conditions, systems of work organization, work characteristics, worker health and socioeconomic inequalities in health (that is, health differences by income, education or occupational status). In addition, prevention programs (interventions) to reduce socioeconomic health inequalities and improve worker health will be reviewed. These have typically been targeted to lower income workers and thus also reach workers of color and immigrants. Common types have been safety and health training, workplace participatory action research, collective bargaining and laws and regulations.

Bio: Dr. Landsbergis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, State University of New York (SUNY)-Downstate Health Sciences University School of Public Health. He received a PhD in Epidemiology from Columbia University and an EdD in Labor Studies from Rutgers University. Dr. Landsbergis has extensive research and teaching experience on social epidemiology, work organization, work stress, workplace interventions, lean production, socioeconomic health inequities, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders and psychological disorders. Dr. Landsbergis served as a member of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH’s) Intervention Effectiveness Research Team, and was a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on the Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers. He co-edited two books on work stress and health (The Workplace and Cardiovascular Disease, 2000; Unhealthy Work, 2009), is Deputy Editor of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, and has been a consultant to many labor unions.

Adolfo G. Cuevas, Ph.D., is a community psychologist and Director of the Psychosocial Determinants of Health (PSDH) Lab at Tufts University
Adolfo G. Cuevas, PhD

Adolfo Cuevas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Community Health, Tufts University

The rising prevalence of obesity is a pressing public health issue in the United States. Approximately 40% of adults are currently obese or severely obese, with a disproportionately high prevalence in middle-age and older. With no broadly effective preventive or therapeutic treatments, and projections that the rate of adult obesity will reach 50% by 2030, there is a critical need to better understand the causes of obesity and design comprehensive strategies to prevent it. Psychosocial stressors have thus far been understudied and underappreciated in obesity research. Yet, exposure to social and environmental demands (often referred to as stressors) have behavioral and physiological consequences that increase the risk of obesity. Dr. Adolfo Cuevas will share his work on the impact of psychosocial stress exposure on obesity risk in communities, and will outline promising strategies to create more efficacious prevention and intervention programs.

Bio: Adolfo G. Cuevas, Ph.D., is a community psychologist and Director of the Psychosocial Determinants of Health (PSDH) Lab at Tufts University, where he, along with a multidisciplinary team of researchers, investigate the interrelationship between race/ethnicity, psychosocial stressors, and health-related outcomes within multiple social contexts (e.g., community, health system).

Dr. Cuevas has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Cancer Disparities Research Network to investigate the biobehavioral pathways linking psychosocial stress and obesity among Hispanics/Latinos and Black Americans. His work has been published in a number of scientific journals such as Health Psychology, Cancer Causes and Control, American Journal of Public Health, and Cardiology Clinics and featured in Huff Post and NPR's Code Switch. He recently received the Tufts CTSI Career Development Award (KL2) to examine the effects of psychosocial stressors on obesity disparities.

For his research work on race, racism, and health, Dr. Cuevas was selected as one of the National Minority Quality Forum's 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health. Dr. Cuevas received a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology at Portland State University concentrating in Community Psychology and Research Methods, an MS in Applied Psychology at Portland State University, and a BA in Psychology at City College of New York. He attained additional training as a cancer prevention postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2015-2017).

Reyna Lopez (she/her), Executive Director at PCUN, Oregon’s Farmworker Union
Reyna Lopez (she/her)

Reyna Lopez (she/her), Executive Director at PCUN, Oregon’s Farmworker Union

Agricultural workers, and immigrant communities have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19  - this is due to being categorized as essential workers, yet not having the protections and health supports in place to ensure they are healthy and safe. Reyna Lopez, PCUN's executive director, will talk to us about what the organization's membership base has been experiencing throughout the pandemic, and will address some of the challenges related to recent wildfires.

Bio: Reyna is a leader and proud daughter of immigrants from Mexico, who came to Oregon in the late 80’s following the migration of farm work in the Marion County area. She is currently the Executive Director of PCUN, which was started by farmworkers and is now Oregon’s longest standing Latinx led organization. Reyna grew up in Salem, Oregon and graduated from Willamette University with her BA in Political Science and Sociology. For over a decade, she has been a fierce leader and advocate for the Latinx community in Oregon, receiving the Immigrant Award from the American Association of Immigration Lawyers of Oregon, and Willamette University’s Young Alumni of the Year Award for her work in social justice causes, campaigns, movement and coalition building. Today, Reyna is also leading on national efforts as a member of the board of the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Secretary Treasurer of the Oregon Working Families Party.

Reyna’s passion for organizing and community is reflected throughout her career from her position as Civic Engagement Director at Causa, where she led the Yes on 88 Campaign, Oregon’s first bilingual-bicultural ballot measure campaign! She founded the organization’s New American Voter’s Project and worked tirelessly to win Tuition Equity – a fight that took over a decade – for Oregon’s Dreamer population. In recent years, Reyna was the Outreach Director at Our Oregon, where she managed the Fellowship Program and organization’s base building efforts for Oregon revenue reforms. And most recently, fighting for gender justice at Family Forward Oregon as the Organizing Director where she developed programs around Paid Family and Medical Leave, and nationally focused campaigns fighting back to protect the national budget from harmful cuts, and protecting safety net programs.

Julia M. Goodman, Assistant Professor, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
Julia M. Goodman, PhD, MPH

Julia M. Goodman, PhD, Assistant Professor, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

The population health impacts of work span the lifecourse, but in the US in particular, these impacts are critical in the time around pregnancy and childbirth, when the lack of basic workplace protections exacerbates inequities in maternal and child health. Drawing on research from social epidemiology, health policy, occupational health psychology, and public health, this talk will describe various dimensions of the work environment that shape health inequities in maternal and child health and discuss challenges and opportunities for addressing them.

Bio: Julia Goodman is an Assistant Professor at the Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University School of Public Health. She is a health policy researcher who studies how work and work-related policies affect maternal and infant health. She earned her Ph.D. in Health Policy and her M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from UC Berkeley. She also holds a B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University.

Course Directors, Leslie B. Hammer, Ph.D. & Dawn M. Richardson, DrPH, MPH