Job Demands and Job Control as Predictors of Depressive Symptoms: Moderating Effects of Negative Childhood Socioemotional Experiences

Stress Health. 2016 Oct;32(4):383-394. doi: 10.1002/smi.2632. Epub 2015 Jan 13.


There have been calls to know more about vulnerability factors that may predispose to adverse health outcomes at work. We examined if childhood adverse experiences would affect vulnerability to psychosocial stress factors at work. A nationally representative sample of 1546 Finnish men and women was followed up from childhood to adulthood. Childhood adverse experiences consisted of socioeconomic and emotional factors. Job demands and job control were measured 21 years later, and depressive symptoms were measured 21 and 27 years after the childhood measurements. Job demands predicted depressive symptoms over 6 years, and the association was modified by childhood emotional adversity. Participants with three or more emotional adversities in childhood had more depressive symptoms in response to high job demands compared with participants with zero or one emotional adversities in childhood (Betas = -1.40 and -2.01, ps < 0.05 and <0.01). No such moderating effect by childhood adverse experiences was found for the association between job control and depressive symptoms. Although modest in effect size, these findings provide a developmental viewpoint for understanding the role of childhood experiences in work-related stress factors. Such knowledge can enhance understanding of individual differences in vulnerability to the demands of working life. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: childhood adversity; depression; job demands; longitudinal study; vulnerability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Adverse Events / psychology*
  • Adult Survivors of Child Adverse Events / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*