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Occupations, work characteristics and common mental disorder

  • S. A. Stansfeld (a1), C. Pike (a1), S. McManus (a2), J. Harris (a2), P. Bebbington (a3), T. Brugha (a4), A. Hassiotis (a3), R. Jenkins (a5), H. Meltzer (a4), P. Moran (a6) and C. Clark (a1)...

Abstract

Background

The present study aimed to assess the prevalence of common mental disorders (CMDs) by occupation in a representative sample of the English adult population. Another aim was to examine whether the increased risk of CMD in some occupations could be explained by adverse work characteristics.

Method

We derived a sample of 3425 working-age respondents from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007. Occupations were classified by Standard Occupational Classification group, and CMD measured by the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule. Job characteristics were measured by questionnaire, and tested as explanatory factors in associations of occupation and CMD.

Results

After adjusting for age, gender, housing tenure and marital status, caring personal service occupations had the greatest risk of CMD compared with all occupations (odds ratio 1.73, 95% confidence interval 1.16–2.58). The prevalence of adverse psychosocial work characteristics did not follow the pattern of CMD by occupation. Work characteristics did not explain the increased risk of CMDs associated with working in personal service occupations. Contrary to our hypotheses, adding work characteristics individually to the association of occupation and CMD tended to increase rather than decrease the odds for CMD.

Conclusions

As has been found by others, psychosocial work characteristics were associated with CMD. However, we found that in our English national dataset they could not explain the high rates of CMD in particular occupations. We suggest that selection into occupations may partly explain high CMD rates in certain occupations. Also, we did not measure emotional demands, and these may be important mediators of the relationship between occupation type and CMDs.

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Copyright

The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence . The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: S. A. Stansfeld, Ph.D., Centre for Psychiatry, Old Anatomy Building, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK. (Email: s.a.stansfeld@qmul.ac.uk)

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Keywords

Occupations, work characteristics and common mental disorder

  • S. A. Stansfeld (a1), C. Pike (a1), S. McManus (a2), J. Harris (a2), P. Bebbington (a3), T. Brugha (a4), A. Hassiotis (a3), R. Jenkins (a5), H. Meltzer (a4), P. Moran (a6) and C. Clark (a1)...

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