Toward an integrated conceptualisation of psychological health at work

I. Madore, L. Thornthwaite, G. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


According to the World Health Organization (2013), mental health is viewed as more than the absence of mental disorders, it is a state of wellbeing enabling an individual, among other things, to work productively and effectively. In this regard, wellbeing constitutes one dimension of a higher construct called psychological health. The other component of psychological health is often called psychological distress, and represents the opposite of wellbeing. Despite numerous academic studies on this topic, a dominant model to conceptualise wellbeing, particularly within work contexts, has not emerged. Consequently, confusion exists in the literature concerning the way to define psychological wellbeing and distress at work. The primary objective of this paper is to integrate two complementary views present in the literature, and thereby propose a conceptualisation adapted to the work context, one that includes both the positive (wellbeing) and negative (distress) components of psychological health. This study anchors the definition of those constructs within Deci and Ryan’s (1985) selfdetermination theory (SDT) framework, as applied to the workplace (Gagné & Deci, 1995). More precisely, based on SDT, this study conceptualises indicators of psychological wellbeing and distress at work in relation to the satisfaction of employees’ basic needs at work. This paper first summarizes the scientific literature in this area to guide development of an integrative theoretical framework for the study of psychological health in the workplace. From this framework, we then describe the process leading to our development of a multidimensional questionnaire designed to capture this conceptualisation and of a research design aimed at validation of this instrument. Future research might utilise the proposed comprehensive framework and instrument to evaluate empirically the antecedents and outcomes of psychological health at work, overall or considering its positive and negative components, i.e. wellbeing and distress. Practitioners might use such results to drive organisational interventions that aim not only at preventing employee distress in the work context but also at promoting employee wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAustralian Psychological Society Annual Conference (49 : 2014) - Hobart, Tasmania
Duration: 30 Sept 20143 Oct 2014


ConferenceAustralian Psychological Society Annual Conference (49 : 2014)
CityHobart, Tasmania


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