Objective: The objective was to explore the association between the characteristics of the exposure to workplace bullying and depressive symptoms in a large sample of employees of the French working population.
Methods: The study sample consisted of 3132 men and 4562 women of the French general working population in the southeast of France. Inclusion criterion was to have a work experience of at least 3 months. Cases of bullying were defined using both Leymann's definition and self-report of being exposed to bullying. Depressive symptoms were measured using the CES-D scale.
Results: After adjustment for covariates, which were age, marital status, presence of children, educational level, and occupation, exposure to bullying was found to be a risk factor for depressive symptoms for both men and women. The more frequent the exposure, the higher the risk of depressive symptoms. Past exposure to bullying increased the risk of depressive symptoms. Observing bullying was found to be a risk factor for depressive symptoms and increased the risk further still among women exposed to bullying. All these associations were found to be highly significant (P<.001).
Conclusion: Workplace bullying was found to be a strong risk factor for depressive symptoms for men and women. Although any conclusion about the causal nature of the association could not be drawn because of the cross-sectional design of the survey, this study suggested that efforts to prevent bullying should be intensified.