The contribution of work and non-work stressors to common mental disorders in the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

Psychol Med. 2012 Apr;42(4):829-42. doi: 10.1017/S0033291711001759. Epub 2011 Sep 6.


Background: Evidence for an effect of work stressors on common mental disorders (CMD) has increased over the past decade. However, studies have not considered whether the effects of work stressors on CMD remain after taking co-occurring non-work stressors into account.

Method: Data were from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, a national population survey of participants 6 years living in private households in England. This paper analyses data from employed working age participants (N=3383: 1804 males; 1579 females). ICD-10 diagnoses for depressive episode, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, panic or mixed anxiety and depression in the past week were derived using a structured diagnostic interview. Questionnaires assessed self-reported work stressors and non-work stressors.

Results: The effects of work stressors on CMD were not explained by co-existing non-work stressors. We found independent effects of work and non-work stressors on CMD. Job stress, whether conceptualized as job strain or effort-reward imbalance, together with lower levels of social support at work, recent stressful life events, domestic violence, caring responsibilities, lower levels of non-work social support, debt and poor housing quality were all independently associated with CMD. Social support at home and debt did not influence the effect of work stressors on CMD.

Conclusions: Non-work stressors do not appear to make people more susceptible to work stressors; both contribute to CMD. Tackling workplace stress is likely to benefit employee psychological health even if the employee's home life is stressful but interventions incorporating non-work stressors may also be effective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • England / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Morbidity
  • Social Environment
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Work / psychology
  • Workplace / psychology
  • Young Adult