2002 Volume 40 Issue 2 Pages 101-112
According to the recent changes of working environments and socio-economical conditions, the proportion of working women are increasing in Japan. Characteristics of occupational workload and stress of Japanese working women are consistent with those in many industrialized countries except man-dominant culture. In this review we describe the history, current issues, and future research directions on occupational health of working women, especially focused on reproductive health, workrelated musculo-skeletal disorders (WMSDs), and mental disorders. In the reproductive health survey, traditionally main concern was about pregnancy outcomes, then fecundity studies, such as time to pregnancy, became topics recently. Future research will be shifted to outcomes not only during pregnancy but also disorders of hormonal balance and climacterium or health conditions after menopause. WMSDs are reviewed on mainly gender difference and its causative factors. Historically, mental health of working women in Japan has focused on the job stress of nurses. We compare results with a lot of recent researches in Europe and U.S.A., where interaction between occupational stress and family roles were studied. It is not easy to predict the prospective status of female workers in Japan, but social, workplace and familial supports will enhance their health promotion.