The effect of self-reported and observed job conditions on depression and anxiety symptoms: a comparison of theoretical models

J Occup Health Psychol. 2007 Oct;12(4):334-49. doi: 10.1037/1076-8998.12.4.334.


The demand/control/support and effort/reward imbalance models have relied on self-reported methods to describe how poor psychosocial working conditions lead to harmful health outcomes. The hindrance/utilization model uses an observational methodology to assess these relationships. Cross-sectional observational and self-reported data from 98 civil servants participating in the Whitehall II Study of British civil servants were used to test whether work conditions measured by each of the three theoretical models explained a significant amount of the variance in depression and anxiety symptoms. Observational measures were also used to assess potential common methods variance bias between the self-reported job conditions and the outcomes. Results showed that the demand/control/support model explained the most variance in depression and anxiety symptoms and the associations were not wholly due to common methods variance. Moreover, measures associated with job resources (e.g., skill discretion, social support and skill utilization) had a protective effect on depression and anxiety symptoms. Exertion-related conditions (e.g., demands, effort, over commitment) were not consistently associated with depression or anxiety symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Government Agencies / organization & administration*
  • Hierarchy, Social
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Observation
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Research Design
  • Self Disclosure
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom
  • Workplace / psychology*