Background: During the last few years, a high incidence of sick leave due to depression has been reported, resulting in important economic and social impacts. Only a limited number of studies investigating the influence of psychosocial working conditions on sick leave have been prospective and have utilized a valid methodology, while none have studied sick leave due to depression. In this paper, we analyze the impact of adverse psychosocial working conditions on the risk for long-term sick leave due to depression.
Method: This study resulted from the large scale Belstress I study on the relationship between perceived job stress and health problems. Subjects were Belgian employees selected from 11 large companies (n=9396). Using a longitudinal design, we explored the association between the three Karasek stress dimensions (job control, psychological demand, and social support), separatelely and combined them according to the demand-control and demand-control-support models and the incidence of long-term sick leave for depression as diagnosed by the family physician.
Results: After adjusting for age, occupational categories, living situation, and baseline depression score, “passive jobs” (OR=2.67; 95% CI: 1.15, 6.19) and “high strain” jobs (OR= 3.23; 95% CI: 1.40, 7.43) predicted sick leave due to depression at follow-up in men.
Job control predicted sick leave due to depression in both men (OR:2.43; 95%CI:1.27, 4.66) and women (OR:2.21; 95%CI:1.05, 4.68).
Conclusions: This study provides evidence that the psychosocial working environment influences long-term sick leave due to depression. Efforts to improve skill discretion and decision authority at work could help prevent depression.
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