Objective: To explore a possible causal relationship between psychosocial work characteristics and mental health.
Methods: Using longitudinal data from the Maastricht Cohort Study on "Fatigue at Work" (n = 2332), the effects of changes in job demands and decision latitude on subsequent changes in need for recovery and prolonged fatigue were studied.
Results: Increasing job demands are a significant predictor of a subsequent increase in need for recovery (beta = 0.063) and prolonged fatigue (beta = 0.057). An increase in decision latitude predicted a subsequent decrease in need for recovery (beta = -0.078) and prolonged fatigue (beta = -0.063). After adjusting for changes in other work characteristics, the effects on changes in prolonged fatigue were no longer significant.
Conclusion: These findings support a possible causal relationship between work characteristics and mental health and can be used for designing effective prevention and intervention strategies.