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Appreciation and job control predict depressive symptoms: results from the Study on Mental Health at Work

Objective: Depressive symptoms are a leading cause of disability retirement and sick leave. The aim of this study was to assess the risk of depressive symptoms in German employees and its associations with factors from both the occupational and the non-occupational domain and gender.

Methods: In the second wave of the German Study of Mental Health at Work (SMGA), a representative sample of 2640 German employees (52% women) was studied. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the PHQ-9 questionnaire. Psychosocial occupational and non-occupational conditions were assessed with quantitative interviews. In this cross-sectional sample, the association of these factors with depressive symptoms was examined using logistic regression models.

Results: Factors from both the occupational and the non-occupational domain were associated with risk of depressive symptoms. Low appreciation from superior (ORmen 2.1 (95% CI 1.2–3.7); ORwomen 3.2 (95% CI 2.1–4.8)), low job control (ORmen 2.9 (95% CI 1.6–5.4); ORwomen 1.6 (95% CI 1.0–2.5)), and critical life events (ORmen 3.0 (95% CI 1.6–5.4); ORwomen 2.3 (95% CI 1.5–3.7)) had the strongest association with risk of depressive symptoms. The association with quantitative demands was stronger in caregivers than in non-caregivers. The results indicated possible differences in the associations of working conditions between men and women, and between family caregivers and non-caregivers.

Conclusion: Factors from both work and private life are associated with depressive symptoms, especially appreciation, job control, and critical life events. Gender differences, with respect to appreciation and influence at work, suggest a more gender sensitive approach to psychosocial occupational health research and interventions.

The complete article is published in the Journal "International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health", Volume 95, Issue 2, pp. 377-387.

First Online: 23 June 2021

Bibliographic information

A. Pohrt, D. Fodor, H. Burr, F. Kendel:
Appreciation and job control predict depressive symptoms: results from the Study on Mental Health at Work. 
in: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Volume 95, Issue 2 2022. pages 377-387, Project number: F 2460, PDF file, DOI: 10.1007/s00420-021-01735-6

download file "Appreciation and job control predict depressive symptoms: results from the Study on Mental Health at Work" (PDF, 551 KB, Not barrier-free file)

Research Project

Project numberF 2460 StatusOngoing Project Project bundle: Longitudinal study of mental health at work (S-MGA II) - Project component 2: Longitudinal associations between working and employment conditions, burnout and depressive symptoms

Find out more : Project bundle: Longitudinal study of mental health at work (S-MGA II) - Project component 2: Longitudinal associations between working and employment conditions, burnout and depressive symptoms …

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