Emotional Demands at Work and the Risk of Clinical Depression: A Longitudinal Study in the Danish Public Sector

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OBJECTIVE: This study is a 2-year follow-up study of different dimensions of work-related emotional demands as a predictor for clinical depression.

METHODS: In a two-wave study, 3224 (72%) public employees from 474 work-units participated twice by filling in questionnaires. Sixty-two cases of clinical depression were diagnosed. Emotional demands were examined as perceived and content-related emotional demands, individually reported and work-unit based. Support, meaningful work, and enrichment were considered as potential effect modifiers.

RESULTS: Individually reported perceived emotional demands predicted depression (odds ratio: 1.40; 95% confidence intervals: 1.02 to 1.92). The work-unit based odds ratio was in the same direction, though not significant. Content-related emotional demands did not predict depression. Support, meaningful work, and enrichment did not modify the results.

CONCLUSIONS: The personal perception of emotional demands was a risk factor for clinical depression but specific emotionally demanding work tasks were not.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)994–1001
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

ID: 164585319