What does research tell us about depression, job performance, and work productivity?

J Occup Environ Med. 2008 Apr;50(4):401-10. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31816bae50.


Objective: To assess the work impact of depression.

Methods: A review of research articles published since 2002, reporting on the magnitude and/or nature of depression's impact on work.

Results: This research is characterized by the use of three outcome indicators (employment status, absenteeism, and presenteeism metrics) and three research designs (population-based, workplace, and clinical). The literature documents that, compared to non-depressed individuals, those with depression have more unemployment, absences, and at-work performance deficits. Methodological variation makes it difficult to determine the magnitude of these differences. Additionally, the research suggests that the work impact of depression is related to symptom severity and that symptom relief only partly reduces the adverse work outcomes of depression.

Conclusions: Research has contributed to knowledge of the multidimensional work impact of depression. Further developing intervention research is an important next step.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Depression*
  • Efficiency
  • Humans
  • Research
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Workplace / psychology*