Can stress management at the workplace prevent depression? A randomized controlled trial

Psychother Psychosom. 2006;75(3):177-82. doi: 10.1159/000091775.


Background: Stress, mental health and depression at the workplace have emerged as common and significant problems. The effectiveness of a stress-management program at the workplace was investigated.

Methods: The effectiveness of a stress-management program was examined in workers at a highly stressful workplace using a randomized controlled trial. The 58 workers in the office were randomly assigned into a stress-management group (n = 28) and a control group (n = 30). The stress-management program included lectures on the perception of stress, measures to cope with it, stress-management recording sheets, and e-mail counseling. This program was based on the cognitive behavioral approach. The stress-management program was carried out for 3 months, and perceived work-related stress and psychological symptoms were evaluated using: General Health Questionnaire (GHQ)-30, Center for Epidemiologic Study for Depression (CES-D), the Questionnaire of Work-Related Stress and the Effort-Reward Imbalance Questionnaire. Twenty-one out of the 28 in the stress-management group and all in the control group were successfully followed up.

Results: In the stress-management group, a significant improvement in the depressive symptoms was observed, compared with the control group in CES-D (p = 0.003 by two-tailed paired t-test, and p = 0.042 by repeated measure analysis of variance). In the multiple regression analysis, the effect of stress management on depressive symptoms at follow-up was significant (p = 0.041), controlling for potential confounding factors. However, the alleviation of perceived occupational stress was limited.

Conclusions: A stress-management program based on the cognitive behavioral approach at the workplace may have potential for the prevention of depression.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Japan
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Occupational Health Services / methods*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Workplace / psychology