Background: Common mental disorders (CMD) are prevalent in working populations and have adverse consequences for employee well-being and work ability, even leading to early retirement. Several studies report associations between psychosocial working conditions and CMD. However, there is a lack of longitudinal research within a broad framework of psychosocial working conditions and improvement in CMD. The aim of this study was to examine the associations between several psychosocial working conditions and deteriorating and improving CMD among ageing employees over a five-to-six-year follow-up period.
Methods: The study is based on the Helsinki Health Study baseline survey in 2001-2002 and a follow-up in 2007 (N = 4340, response rate 83%) conducted among 40-60-year-old female and male employees. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used to measure common mental disorders. Psychosocial working conditions were measured in terms of job strain, organisational justice, work-family interface, social support and workplace bullying. The covariates included sociodemographic and health factors.
Results: Following adjustment for all the covariates, family-to-work (OR 1.41, 95% Cl 1.04-1.91) and work-to-family conflicts (OR 1.99, 95% Cl 1.42-2.78) and workplace bullying (OR 1.40, 95% Cl 1.09-1.79) were associated with deterioration, and family-to-work conflicts (OR 1.65, 95% Cl 1.66-2.34) and social support (OR 1.47, 95% Cl 1.07-2.00) with improvement in CMD.
Conclusions: Adverse psychosocial working conditions contribute to poor mental health among employees. Preventing workplace bullying, promoting social support and achieving a better balance between work and family may help employees to maintain their mental health.