Mental disorders, especially depression, are responsible for high absenteeism from work and economic loss. In addition, the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and depression is well known and there is a social gradient in depression. Studies have found associations between working conditions and health as well as between socioeconomic status and psychosocial working conditions.
In a recently published study in IJPH, the authors sought to investigate whether a social gradient in depressiveness is mediated by work-related (measured by effort-reward imbalance [ERI]) and non work-related (social isolation) factors. Data from 6,339 employees was used, taken from the lidA (leben in der Arbeit) study. This was a prospective cohort study including employees in Germany, born in 1959 and 1965 who were subject to social security and who were working on December 2009.
This study found significant indirect effects of work-related stress and social isolation in both age cohorts, whereas a direct association was observable int he younger cohort study. The significant regional variation in the association between work-related stress and depressive symptoms was not statistically explained by regional unemployment rate.
The authors conclude that work-related stress and social isolation play an intermediary role between education and depressive symptoms in middle-aged employees.