Classic and emergent psychosocial work factors and mental health

Occup Med (Lond). 2015 Mar;65(2):126-34. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqu173. Epub 2014 Dec 22.


Background: Little is known about associations between emergent psychosocial work factors and mental health.

Aims: To explore associations between classical and emergent psychosocial work factors and depression and anxiety symptoms in employees in France.

Methods: A national cross-sectional study (the SUrveillance Médicale des Expositions aux Risques professionnels (SUMER) survey) assessed psychosocial work factors including psychological demands, decision latitude, social support, reward and its sub-dimensions (esteem, job security and job promotion), bullying, verbal abuse, physical violence and sexual assault, long working hours, shift and night work, unsociable work days, predictability and demands for responsibility. We also measured depression and anxiety symptoms using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale. We used gender-stratified generalized linear models to adjust for age, occupation and economic activity.

Results: A total of 26883 men and 20079 women participated (response rate 87%). Low decision latitude, high psychological demands, low social support, low reward, bullying and verbal abuse were associated with depression and anxiety in both genders (β coefficients from 0.14 to 1.40). In men, low predictability was associated with both depression and anxiety (β = 0.12 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01, 0.24] and 0.19 [95% CI 0.06, 0.32]) and long working hours were associated with anxiety (β = 0.48 [95% CI 0.27, 0.69]). The strongest associations were observed for bullying, reward (especially esteem) and psychological demands. Using a less conservative approach, we found more factors to be significantly associated with mental health symptoms.

Conclusions: Most psychosocial work factors studied are associated with depression and/or anxiety symptoms. Comprehensive prevention policies may help to reduce exposure to psychosocial work factors, including emergent ones, and improve mental health at work.

Keywords: Anxiety symptoms; France; HAD scale; depression symptoms; psychosocial work factors..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bullying / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupations
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological* / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological* / etiology
  • Workplace / psychology*