Original Article

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 397-405

First online:

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

  • Shin-Goo ParkAffiliated withDepartment of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Inha University Hospital
  • , Kyoung-Bok MinAffiliated withDepartment of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ajou University School of Medicine
  • , Sei-Jin ChangAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive Medicine and Institute of Occupational Medicine, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University
  • , Hwan-Cheol KimAffiliated withDepartment of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Inha University Hospital
  • , Jin-Young MinAffiliated withInstitute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University Email author 

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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.


Job stress KOSS-SF CES-D Work culture Korea