Correlates of psychological distress among workers in the mining industry in remote Australia: Evidence from a multi-site cross-sectional survey

PLoS One. 2018 Dec 20;13(12):e0209377. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209377. eCollection 2018.


The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of psychological distress in employees in the metalliferous mining industry in Australia, and to examine associated demographic, health, and workplace characteristics. A cross sectional survey was conducted among 1,799 participants from four metalliferous mines. Psychological distress was measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), alongside other measures of personal demographics, health history, health behaviour, and workplace characteristics. Univariate and multivariate statistical methods were used to examine associations between psychological distress and personal and workplace characteristics. Levels of moderate to very high psychological distress were significantly higher in this sample (44.4%) compared to the general population (27.2%). Moderate to very high psychological distress was significantly associated with younger age; individual health factors (a prior history of depression, anxiety, or drug/alcohol problems); health behaviours (using illicit drugs in the last month); and a range of workplace factors (concern about losing their job; lower satisfaction with work; working shifts of over 12 hours duration; working in mining for financial reasons and social factors (poorer social networks). The identification of a number of social, personal and workplace factors associated with high psychological distress present useful targets to inform the development of tailored workplace interventions to reduce distress in metalliferous mine employees.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Miners / psychology*
  • Miners / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Shift Work Schedule / psychology
  • Shift Work Schedule / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / statistics & numerical data
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

BK, CJ received funds from the Minerals Council of Australia., Grant number N/A. The funder was involved in recruitment of participants (approaching interested mine sites across Australia). The funder had no role in data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.