Development of depressive symptoms and depression during organizational change--a two-year follow-up study of civil servants

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2010 Nov;36(6):445-8. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3075. Epub 2010 Aug 5.


Objective: On 1 January 2007, Denmark went through a major reorganization, where most of its 275 municipalities and 14 counties merged into larger units. Our study aimed to examine the development of depressive symptoms and incident depression among employees affected by this organizational change.

Methods: A total of 685 civil servants employed in the administration of 5 municipalities and 2 counties participated in the study. They answered a postal questionnaire, 8 months prior to and 16 months after the reorganization, regarding working conditions, psychosocial work environment factors, and depressive symptoms, based on the Major Depression Inventory (MDI). During the follow-up period of 2006-2008, 295 employees had experienced a merger with other workplaces (hereafter the merger group), 259 had got a new job (the new job group), and 131 who experienced no change in workplace served as the control group. The three groups were compared to each other for (i) mean score of MDI and (ii) incident cases of depression using general linear models and logistic regression analyses, separately by gender.

Results: After adjustment of the MDI for age, occupation, supervisor function, and department at baseline in 2006, no significant differences in increase in MDI were found between the groups. The incidence of depression in the merger group was not significantly higher than the control group [women: odds ratio (OR) 1.5 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.6-3.9), men: OR 1.7 (95% CI 0.2-18.7)], after adjustment for confounders.

Conclusion: This study showed no significantly increased risk of depression or increase in depressive symptoms among employees exposed to organizational change as a part of a major local government reform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Federal Government
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Stress, Psychological* / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological* / etiology
  • Young Adult