Mental disorders are highly prevalent in the general population as well as in the working- age population and are characterized by multifactorial genesis in which genetic as well as environmental factors play an etiologic role. To analyze the association between psychosocial work factors and mental health, a systematic literature review was undertaken including cohort studies, case-control studies, and randomized controlled trials. Literature search in PubMed and PsycInfo was based on a defined search string and strict exclusion and inclusion criteria. Evaluation of the initially identified 4,206 search hits by two independent reviewers and a detailed quality assessment finally resulted in 38 studies with adequate quality. Of the included studies, 32 studies were retrieved for mental disorders (depression, anxiety disorders and somatoform disorders), five studies for mental impairment (burnout including emotional exhaustion) and one study which considered both depression and burnout.
The results of our systematic review clearly point out a relationship between psychosocial working conditions and the onset of burnout, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and clinical disorders (depression and anxiety disorders). Particularly high job strain defined by high job demands and low job control seems to play a role in the etiology of the mentioned (clinical) outcomes. Furthermore, job insecurity and low social support are risk factors for the development of depressive disorders.
Comprehensive approaches to designing working conditions may prove to be most effective for preventing psychological diseases. The avoidance of detrimental psychosocial work stressors not only serves to prevent psychological disease, but is also a relevant approach to the promotion of public health.
Please download the complete report "Influence of psychosocial work load on the development of mental impairments and disorders" (in German only).
M. Thinschmidt, S. Deckert, F. S. Then, J. Hegewald, K. Nieuwenhuijsen, S. G. Riedel-Heller, A. Seidler:
Systematischer Review: Der Einfluss arbeitsbedingter psychosozialer Belastungsfaktoren auf die Entstehung psychischer Beeinträchtigungen und Erkrankungen.
1. edition. Dortmund: Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin 2014.
ISBN: 978-3-88261-727-6, pages 189, Project number: F 2264, paper, PDF file