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June 3, 1988

Mental Stress: 'Occupational Injury' of 80s That Even Pilots Can't Rise Above

JAMA. 1988;259(21):3097-3098. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720210001001

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MANY PILOTS FLYING in the less-than-friendly skies of airlines involved in hostile takeovers or experiencing financial instability are suffering from the effects of what has become this decade's occupational injury: psychological stress. In one month this spring, three national lay publications, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Newsweek, published articles highlighting the growing concern of both corporations and employees that stress may be the "test that Americans are failing," as Business Week put it.

While pilots do not yet seem to be filing claims for workers' compensation, thousands of other workers across the country are. According to the California Workman's Compensation Institute (CWCI), a research firm based in San Francisco, from 1980 to 1986 mental stress claims increased 430% in California. (California is recognized as one of the leading states for such claims.)

Despite this increase, mental stress claims still only account for about 2% of all lost work-time