One nice thing about a blog is that you can post personal stories. I want to share with you an event that occurred Thursday May 19th 2011 at the APA/NIOSH sponsored Work, Stress and Health 2011 Conference which I am attending in Orlando Florida. I was given the honor of introducing Bob Karasek on the occasion of his being awarded the Career Achievement Award by the organizers of the conference. It is the highest honor our profession can bestow on our colleague.
Here is my presentation to Bob on the occasion of his APA/NIOSH Career Achievement Award – May 19 2011
The Job strain hypothesis was formulated 35 years ago and first tested in a paper appearing in the July issue of the AJPH in 1981. Since then Job strain has become the most widely researched psychosocial model in the world, currently being used in 1220 projects in 65 countries.
For four decades now Robert Karasek has championed the JCQ, and the dual hypotheses of job strain as a risk factor for illness, and the active-passive quadrant dimension as a predictor of active learning, human development and social involvement. Each hypothesis has generated important insights into our world of work.
One major reason for the importance of the job strain model resides in the fact that it provides a connection between work organization, and health. It places the individual and his perceptions of his work environment in the forefront of the issues demanding our attention while echoing in a more modern lexicon Marx’s ideas of alienation. It underscores the fact, as well as the degree to which traditional economic analyses of work with their emphasis on productivity, and wealth production ignore the negative human consequences of work in its current form.
Bob, your active role in theory and research has impacted many concerned about work and health. From individuals concerned that their work environment was potentially dangerous, to labor organizations striving for healthy working conditions, to businesses interested in maximizing productivity and to governments setting social policy, all have been impacted by ideas advanced by you Robert often working in collaboration with your lifelong colleague Tores Theorell.
Bob, one of your greatest accomplishments has been the support you have provided to a large number of your colleagues. As you know, much of my own work has been both inspired and shaped by your ideas about the work environment. While I have known you since our participation in the ECHDG in the 1970’s my first involvement in research after leaving the practice of medicine was when I joined your Columbia Job Heart project and with which I worked for 1 year in 1980. My experience working with you Bob, as well as Tores Theorell, Dean Baker, Carl Pieper and Joe Schwartz led me to seek a post-doc to further my training in epidemiology. My thesis proposal ultimately morphed into the 14 year long NYC Worksite BP study in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Pickering (PI) in which you and Jeff Johnson were both active participants.
Over the decades Bob, you and I have collaborated on many projects. From research at Cornell to papers for the AJPH to revisions to the JCQ (now soon to be JCQ 2.0), and conferences from Japan to Amsterdam. I hope that this collaboration will continue for at least another 20 years or longer. Also your work is not yet finished. I found, after an informal poll of your colleagues, that a 2nd edition of your book "Healthy Work" (Basic Books 1990) which builds on your last 20 years of research and experience is wanted from you and Tores.
I want to thank you now Bob for your support and the inspiration you have provided me and many others over the past 4 decades.
Both Tores and I have collaborated on a salute to you, composing a song in your honor, which Tores (the only professional musician among the 3 of us) has volunteered to perform.
For Bob when he received his life time career award in May 2011
Melody by Cole Porter: My heart belongs to daddy
(was sung by Eartha Kitt)
He´s such a man, he knows it all
He started the MODEL, it´s rolling
Demand-control - he made us recall
Why our work is not always strolling
Equilibrium, his newest world
Is offering all of us insight
Once again he is throwing light
He is always on a height
He is father of the DC model
In the seventies he triggered us
Cause he knew the way to coddle
Lots of data and computer-based fuss
Now he harvests all the progress
Let him beam and glory with pride
Dear Bob, we like your success
Let us celebrate now at your side
From Töres Theorell