Date: 12 Jul 2008

Job stress and depressive symptoms among Korean employees: the effects of culture on work

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This study was conducted to investigate the association between depressive symptoms and job stress, as measured by the KOSS, among Korean employees in small- and medium-sized enterprises, and examined which components of stress are involved in the risk for depression among males and females.


Data were collected from a work-stress survey of full-time employees of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Incheon, South Korea. A total of 3,013 participants were included in the analysis. Job stress was measured using 24 items (7 sub-scales) of the short form of Korean occupational stress scale (KOSS-SF), and depressive symptoms were evaluated using Center for epidemiologic studies depression scale (CES-D).


After adjustment for confounding variables, most of subscales of job stress contributed to an increased risk of depressive symptoms, and job insecurity (male; OR = 2.02, 95%CI: 1.61–2.40, female; OR = 1.95, 95%CI: 1.42–2.70) and occupational climate (male; OR = 1.84, 95%CI: 1.49–2.28, female; OR = 1.78, 95%CI: 1.30–2.49) showed strong associations in both male and female. Other subscales revealed different effects for males and females; for males, job demands (OR = 1.68, 95%CI: 1.43–2.20), inadequate social support (OR = 1.55, 95%CI: 1.23–1.94), and lack of rewards (OR = 1.88, 95%CI: 1.48–2.37) were associated with depressive symptoms, whereas for females, organizational injustice (OR = 1.62, 95%CI: 1.14–2.30) was associated with depressive symptoms.


These results indicate that job stress may play a significant role in increasing the risk of depressive symptoms, and that further preventive efforts and research are needed to reduce job stress and address health problems caused by job stress among Korean employees.