Date: 01 Feb 2014

Gender differences in the effects from working conditions on mental health: a 4-year follow-up

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Abstract

Objectives: The overall aim was to examine how working conditions in 1993 influenced the occurrence of poor mental health in 1997 among women and men from the general population. Also, the relative importance of other living conditions in relation to poor mental health in 1997 was examined. Methods: A sample from the general Swedish population (originally examined in 1969) was followed up in 1993 and 1997. Data from these follow-ups were analysed, and both bivariate and multivariate analyses of associations between occupational and non-occupational conditions in 1993 and poor mental health in 1997 – defined as sub-clinical depression, reduced psychological well-being and high alcohol consumption – were performed. Results: Several occupational risk indicators were identified for poor mental health among women, especially sub-clinical depression and high alcohol consumption. Occupational factors such as shift work, job strain, no education at the employer's expense, low occupational pride, low stimulation at work and poor social support were related to poor mental health among women. For poor mental health among men, mainly sub-clinical depression, shift work and low occupational pride were identified as risk indicators. Non-occupational factors related to poor mental health among women were poor quality of social contacts, demanding life events, physical inactivity, high perceived physical load outside work and inadequate coping strategies. Among men, smoking and inadequate coping strategies were related to poor mental health. Conclusions: The difference between women and men, regarding the numbers of identified occupational and non-occupational risk indicators, may partly be explained by the gender-segregated labour market, and partly by other explanations. In our study, we have not succeeded in collecting the relevant information about occupational conditions that is important for men's mental health.

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