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.