Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MPH, MScEpi

Departmental Role

Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MPH, MScEpi, is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, Vice Chair for International Affairs and the Deputy Director for Wayne State University's Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (IEHS). Dr. Arnetz is part of the Department's leadership team. His main role in the Department is to lead and supervise laboratory as well as translationary community-based occupational and environmental health research, focusing on complex interactions between chemical and non-chemical (psychosocial) exposures in urban settings in terms of somatic and mental health among vulnerable populations.

He is also in charge of the Department's International Affairs in terms of promoting international collaborative research and education. Endeavors to date include comparative effectiveness research and environmental health research involving European as well as Middle Eastern researchers. In his role as Deputy Director of the IEHS, he is responsible for promoting translationary participatory-based environmental health research focusing on complex urban exposures in vulnerable populations. Dr. Arnetz is involved in Wayne State University's MPH program. Moreover, he is a successful mentor of graduate, post-graduate and junior and mid-career faculty.

Stress, Health, and Performance in High Risk Professions
A major area of Dr. Arnetz' research interests targets sustained stress, health, and performance among First Responders, including police, military, coast guard, and EMS. He is involved in comparative studies of US and Swedish First Responders. Dr. Arnetz is leading pioneering research as to the efficacy of imagery-based skills and stress management training in inner-city police officers. First Responders are known to at a dramatically increased risk to be exposed to major professional trauma and stressors. Still, research to date has focused on the efficacy of treatment following trauma exposure, or after First Responders has already developed stress-related disorders, rather than trying to prevent it in the first case.

Pre and Post-Displacement Stress and Resiliency Factors Among Refugees and Immigrants
Another area of major interest of Dr. Arnetz' is the impact of pre and post-displacement trauma and stressors on the health and productivity of refugees as compared to immigrants in their new host country. He is especially interested in the mitigating role of post-displacement institutional and occupational resources for mental health, and social functioning.

Leadership and Organizational Determinants of Productive and Healthy Workplaces
Dr. Arnetz leads a series of studies on the relationship between organizational climate, mental and somatic health and productivity in knowledge and service organizations. With an ever increasing focus on organizational change and productivity, there is an urgent need to identify means to attenuate counter-productive employee stress and disengagement in order to foster healthy and productive workplaces.

Effects of Strain and Social Injustices on Disease-relevant Biological Pathways
Dr. Arnetz leads a series of projects that look at the biological implications from job derived stressors, as well as socioeconomic strain on disease-relevant pathways. Research includes epigenetic and other biological markers in persons exposed to social injustice and forced displacement. Health disparity research still suffers from a lack of in-depth understanding of biological mechanisms linking psychosocial and environmental exposures to important public health disorders due to limited abilities to assess strain in real-time and in real-life. Therefore, Dr. Arnetz and other Wayne State researchers have launched a research program focusing on developing new wireless technologies that allow for the study of real-time ("as it happens") cardiovascular reactions in inner-city vulnerable populations and its associations to various health indicators.

Hookah (Water pipe) Smoking
Hookah smoking is increasingly popular among adolescents in the United States and globally. Little is known about individual, behavioral, and environmental risk factors for and consequences of hookah use. Dr. Arnetz and his team are studying hookah use among adolescents and its trajectory into other gateway and heavier drugs as well as risky behavior. They are especially interested in socioeconomics, social network characteristics and public policy as it relates to the initiation of hookah smoking. The group's hookah research also entails studies in other countries to allow for a better understanding of the importance of adolescent versus systems-related risk factors for hookah smoking.

Digitalized Medicine, Physician Practice Pattern and Health
Dr. Arnetz is involved in various projects concerning how the digitalization of medicine, e.g., electronic medical records, affects the practice pattern, work environment and health and well-being of physicians, especially in primary care and out-patient settings.

A general theme of all of Dr. Arnetz research is a strong commitment to translationary research and participatory-based prospectively controlled intervention research.


Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, BS, 1976
Karolinska Institutet, MD, 1981
Karolinska Institutet, PhD in Psychophysiology, 1983
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA, MPH, 1987
Harvard School of Public Health, MSc Epi, 1988

Training and Experience

St. Gorans Hospital (part of the Capio Group), Stockholm, Sweden. Internship (1983-85)

Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA Residency training in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (1986-88).  Dr. Arnetz is Board Certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden Residency training  in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (1991-93), to comply with Swedish training requirements.

The Swedish National Institute of Occupational Health. Post-graduate training in Clinical Occupational Medicine. Certificate in Clinical Occupational Medicine (1994-95)

The Swedish National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health (IPM). Research Associate, Department of Work, Environment, and Health, Stockholm, Sweden (1981-86)

The Swedish National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health (IPM). Professor (tenured), Director, Department of Health Care Environments and Health.

Uppsala University. Professor (tenured), Chair, Division of Community/Social Medicine; and Director, Department of Environmental Stress Disorders (CEOS), Uppsala Academic Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden (1998-2005)

Wayne State University School of Medicine. Professor (tenured), Director, Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Detroit, MI, USA (2005 - current)

Board Certified in Occupational and Environmental Health in the United States (1989) and Sweden (1993), and Board Certified in Community/Social Medicine in Sweden (2006)

Primary Research Interests

Stress medicine: diagnosis, treatment, resiliency, and prevention

Individual, behavioral, environmental, and biological determinants of health disparity

Sustained performance among individuals and organizations

Wireless technologies and health: Impact on neurocognition, hormones, immunology, and sleep

Hookah (water pipe) smoking and its trajectory to heavier drug and risky behavior in adolescents

Selected Publications

Arnetz BB, Templin T, Saudi W, Jamil H. Obstructive sleep apnea, PTSD and health in immigrants. Psychosomatic Medicine. Accepted, 2012.

Arnetz J, Rofa J, Arnetz B, Ventimiglia M, Jamil H. Resilience as a protective factor against the development of psychopathology among refugees. Journal of Mental and Nervous Disorders. Accepted, 2012.

Jamil H, Aldhalimi A, Arnetz BB. Employment satisfaction and health outcomes among professional Iraqi Refugees as compared to immigrants. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies. Accepted, 2012. 

Arnetz B, Drutchas A, Sokol R, Kruger M, Jamil H. Gulf War exposures and pregnancy outcomes: A retrospective study of Iraqi immigrants. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012;206:S261-S262.

Arnetz JE, Zhdanova LS, Elsluhag D, Lichtenberg P, Luborsky M, Arnetz BB. Organizational climate determinants of resident safety culture in nursing homes. The Gerontologist. 2011;51:739-749.
PMID: 21739469. Doi: 10.1093/geront/gnr053.

Arfken CL, Arnetz BB, Fakhouri M, Ventimiglia MJ, Jamil H. Alcohol use among Arab Americans: What is the prevalence? J Immigrat Minority Health. 2011;13:713-718. PMID: 21279687.Doi: 10.1007/s10903-011-9447-8.

Jamil H, Janisse J, Elsouhag D, Fakhouri M, Arnetz JE, Arnetz BB. Do household smoking behaviors constitute a risk factor for hookah use? Nicotine Tob Res. 2011;13:384-388. Doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntq249. PMID: 21330269.

Jamil H, Hamdan TA, Grzyybowski M, Arnetz BB. Health effects associated with geographical area of residence during the 1991 gulf war: a comparative health study of Iraqi soldiers and civilians. US Army Med Dep J 2011. Jul-Sep:86-95. PMID: 21805460.

Hallman DM, Lindberg LG, Arnetz BB, Lyskov E. Effects of static contraction and cold stimulation on cardiovascular autonomic indices, trapezius blood flow and muscle activity in chronic neck-shoulder pain. Eur J App Physiol. 2011;111:1725-1735. PMID: 21221987

Arnetz BB, Lucas T, Arnetz JE. Organizational climate, occupational stress, and employee mental health: mediating effect of organizational efficiency. J Occup Environ Med. 2011;53:34-42. PMID: 21187797.

Maghout Juratli S, Janisse J, Schwartz K, Arnetz BB. Demographic and lifestyle factors associated with perceived stress in the primary care setting: a MetroNet study. Fam Pract. 2011;28:156-162. PMID: 21068192.

Lowden A, AkerstedtT, Ingre M, Wiholm C, Hillert L, Kuster N, Nilsson JP, Arnetz B. Sleep after mobile phone exposure in subjects with mobile phone-related symptoms. Bioelectromagnetics. 2011:32:4-14. PMID: 20857453.

Jamil H, Raymind D, Fakhouri M, Templin T, Khory R, Fakhouri H, Arnetz BB. Self-reported asthma in Chaldeans, Arabs, and African Americans: factors associated with asthma. J Immigr Minor Health. 2011;13:568-575. PMID: 20838892.

Jamil H, Ventimiglia M, Makki H, Arnetz BB. Mental health and treatment response among Iraqi refugees as compared to other non-war exposed Arab immigrants. A pilot study in Southeast Michigan. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies. 2010;8:431-444.

Jamil H, Nassar-McMillan S, Lambert R, Wang Y, Ager J, Arnetz BB. Pre- and post-displacement stressors and time of migration as related to self-rated health among Iraqi immigrants and refugees in Southeast Michigan. Medicine, Conflict and Survival. 2010;26:207-222. PMID: 21291168.

Current Funded Research

Active National/International Grants and Contracts

PI: B Arnetz (FTE 0.30; 3.60 calendar)
Mental health in Iraqi refugees: importance of post-displacement social stressors and institutional resources

NIH/NIMH - 07/01/10 - 04/30/15

The major goal of this 5-year prospective controlled community-based participatory cohort study is to determine the importance of post-displacement social-environmental stressors and institutional resources for health and social and vocational integration in a random sample of Iraqi refugees as compared to immigrant controls.

PI: B Arnetz (FTE 0.30; 3.60 calendar)
Imagery-based trauma-resiliency training for urban police

08/17/09 - 05/31/13

The major goal of this project is to determine the feasibility and efficacy of an imagery-based trauma-resiliency program for city of Detroit police officers.

Co-I: B Arnetz (FTE 0.08; 0.96 calendar) / (PI: Lucas)
Perceived fairness and biological stress reactivity.

08/15/10 - 04/30/13

The goal of this project is to enhance our understanding of biological mechanisms linking social disparities to cardiovascular disease.

Active Other Grants and Contracts

Co-I: B Arnetz (Co-PIs: Hu H, Ruden D. Additional Co-Is: Andrews CP, Bach J, Basu N, Dereski M, Holmes D, Keating D, Land S, Lehner A, Omenn G, Peterson K, Richardson R, Sartor M, Villamor E)
The Michigan Bloodspot Environmental Epidemiology Project (BLEEP)
Michigan's University Research Corridor (URC - pooled funding involving Michigan's three premier research universities. BLEEP was selected in peer-reviewed, competitive selection process)

This proposal makes use of the recently organized Neonatal Blood Spot Translational Research Network Virtual Repository for multidisciplinary integrated environmental health research on the potential impacts of prenatal toxicant exposures on disease. The proposal focus on epigenetics as a potential mechanism through which early life exposures impact on the risk of disease through its role in programming gene expression as well as its responsiveness to environmental and psychosocial community exposures.

P.I. B Arnetz
Ultraminiature heart monitor ring for 24-hour wireless remote patient monitoring (RPM) of cardiovascular health
Wayne State University Cardiovascular Research Institute's Competitive Isis Award
10/15/11 - 09/30/12

In this proposal we will develop an advanced ring sensor for the instant wireless monitoring of heart rate and intra-arterial pressure waves in patients with heart failure in their everyday life. The remote, and real-time sensor data will be used to enhance treatment in this costly and high-risk patient group and enhance the understanding as to how psychosocial environmental community stressors impact cardiac load.

P.I. B Arnetz (P Lewalski, Co-I, K Przyklenk, Co-I, S Siddiqui, Co-I)
Acute cardiovascular stress and quality of patient care.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation

The purpose with this multidisciplinary project is to study the association between objective patient load, neuroendocrine and molecular cardiovascular risk factors in emergency department physician and patient quality indicators.

Co-I: B Arnetz, (0.96 calendar; J Arnetz, PI, P Lichtenberg Co-I, M. Luborsky Co-I)
Organizational Climate, Patient Safety Culture and Quality of Nursing Home Care
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation - Investigator Initiated Research Program

The aim of this study is to examine the association between the organizational climate and patient safety culture, and measurable indicators in nursing homes.

PI: B Arnetz
US. versus Swedish refugee integration programs and policies. Cost-effectiveness and public health assessment.
Wayne State University President Research Enhancement Award.
Wayne State University Index #: 171892

The goal of this project is to compare the cost-effectiveness and public health impact from two different refugee integration policies.

PI: B Arnetz
Utility of epigenomic signature exposure signature in quantifying war-related environmental exposures.
Grants Plus Research Program. Awarded from the Vice President of Research, Wayne State University. Nationally-funded investigators are allowed to apply for this competitively-funded research expansion award. Only 4 recipients were awarded funds in 2012.
05/01/12 - 10/31/13

The aim of this project is to explore the utility of stress-related epigenomic exposure signature imprints and stress biomarker to quantify war-related exposures in a random sample of newly arrived refugees to the U.S.