Influence of social support among employees on mental health and work ability-a prospective cohort study in 2013-15

Eur J Public Health. 2018 Oct 1;28(5):819-823. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cky067.


Background: The study examined the association of social support with mental health, subjective work ability and psychological consultation.

Methods: The cohort study included 1886 German employees (40-54 years) with sickness absence exceeding six weeks in 2012. Postal surveys were carried out in 2013 and 2015.

Results: After adjustment for socio-demographic data, work-related characteristics and personality factors, persons with low social support compared to high social support had poorer mental health (b=-4.96; 95% CI: -7.11 to -2.81) and a lower work ability index (b=-1.10; 95% CI -2.00 to -0.21). Low social support was not associated with increased odds of consulting a psychologist (OR =1.30; 95% CI: 0.86-1.96).

Conclusions: Low social support is an independent predictor of poorer mental health and lower work ability. This study highlights the importance of identifying people who have limited access to social support.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Return to Work / psychology*
  • Return to Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Sick Leave*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Performance / statistics & numerical data*