Original Article

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 47-57

Occupational stress and depression in Korean employees

  • Jung Jin ChoAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital Email author 
  • , Ji Yong KimAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, Dongguk University College of Medicine
  • , Sei Jin ChangAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive Medicine and Institute of Occupational Medicine, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University
  • , Nancy FiedlerAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • , Sang Baek KohAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive Medicine and Institute of Occupational Medicine, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University
  • , Benjamin F. CrabtreeAffiliated withResearch Division, Department of Family Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • , Dong Mug KangAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive and Occupational Medicine, Pusan University School of Medicine
  • , Yong Kyu KimAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive Medicine and Industrial Medical Center, The Catholic University College of Medicine
  • , Young Ho ChoiAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Chuncheon Sacred Heart Hospital

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to analyze what aspects of occupational stress predict depression among Korean workers, and determine which components of occupational stress or job characteristics is more strongly associated with depression.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, a total of 8,522 workers (21–65 years of age) from a nationwide sample were recruited. A self-administered questionnaire was used to assess socio-demographics, job characteristics, depressive symptoms measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and occupational stress assessed by the Korean occupational stress scale (KOSS).

Results

Multivariate analyses show that inadequate social support (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.52, 1.66) and discomfort in occupational climate (OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.18, 1.32) were more important risk factors for depression than organizational injustice, job demand and job control. Compared to the ‘business activities’ industries, ‘recreational, cultural and sporting activities’ (OR = 3.45, 95% CI = 1.80, 6.58), ‘hotel and restaurants’ (OR = 3.34, 95% CI = 1.92, 5.80), ‘real estate and renting and leasing’ (OR = 2.24, 95% CI = 1.13, 4.44), ‘wholesale and retail’ (OR = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.28, 2.67), ‘transportation’ (OR = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.11, 3.07), and ‘financial institute and insurance’ (OR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.04, 2.48) industries had significantly greater risk of depression after controlling for gender, age, marital status, duration of employment and all subscale of KOSS.

Conclusion

The finding that inadequate social support and discomfort in occupational climate is a better predictor of depressive symptoms than organizational injustice in Korea, indicates that the newly developed KOSS has cultural relevance for assessing occupational stress in Korea. Future studies need to understand factors such as “emotional labor” within certain industries where increased risk for depression is observed.

Keywords

Depression Occupational stress Korean occupational stress scale (KOSS) Emotional labor