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Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 1211–1224 | Cite as

The importance of both workplace and private life factors in psychological distress: a large cross-sectional survey of French railway company employees

  • David Evans
  • Luc MalletEmail author
  • Antoine Flahault
  • Catherine Cothereau
  • Sébastien Velazquez
  • Loïc Capron
  • Michel Lejoyeux
Original Paper

Abstract

Purpose

The psychological well-being of employees is a priority in occupational health. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of psychological distress among employees of a large French company, to calculate the associations between distress and stressors in the workplace and private life domains, and to explore confounding across stressor domains.

Methods

8,058 employees of the French national railways company completed a nation-wide survey in 2006 (94.3 % participation). Psychological distress was measured by the 12-item General Health Questionnaire and 21 potential stressors and socio-demographic factors by a self-administered questionnaire. Stressors were summarized in scores for work pressure, workplace conflict, and personal life domains. Risk ratios (RRs) between psychological distress and stressors were calculated using robust-variance Poisson regression.

Results

The prevalence of psychological distress was 32.8 % (95 % CI 31.8–33.9 %), higher among women (48.9 %, 95 % CI 46.5–51.7 %) than men (30.1 %, 95 % CI 29.0–31.2 %). Each stressor domain was associated with distress in the final model containing likely confounders and all three domains (RR highest vs. lowest level—work pressure: men 1.55, 95 % CI 1.42–1.70, women 1.42, 95 % CI 1.23–1.63; work conflict: men 2.63, 95 % CI 2.38–2.91, women 1.98, 95 % CI 1.70–2.30; life concerns: men 2.04, 95 % CI 1.86–2.23, women 1.53, 95 % CI 1.32–1.78). The mutually adjusted RRs for the stressor domains were smaller than the unadjusted RRs.

Conclusions

Almost one-third of all employees and one-half of female employees experienced psychological distress. All three stressor domains were associated with psychological distress and adjustment reduced the association size, suggesting possible over-estimation if one or more domains are omitted from the survey.

Keywords

Psychological distress Mental health Workplace stressors Private life stressors 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Drs Fayada, Izar, Mille, Richardot, and Severyns (Medical Department, SNCF) for their contribution to the design of the study; Dr Falissard (Université Paris Sud—Paris11) for his technical advice and critical review of the methodology; and the participants and clinic staff in the study sites.

Conflict of interest

The SNCF funded the study as part of the company’s occupational medicine program. A working group of medical department employees and consultants from academia developed the study design. The academic authors independently analyzed the data, drafted the paper, and had responsibility for the decision to publish.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the Commission nationale informatique et libertés in France (approval No. 1129168).

Supplementary material

127_2012_605_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (702 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 702 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Evans
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Luc Mallet
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  • Antoine Flahault
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Catherine Cothereau
    • 1
  • Sébastien Velazquez
    • 1
  • Loïc Capron
    • 1
  • Michel Lejoyeux
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical DepartmentSociété Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF)ParisFrance
  2. 2.EHESP School of Public HealthRennes, ParisFrance
  3. 3.Inserm UMR-S 707ParisFrance
  4. 4.Centre de Recherche de l’Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épiniere, UMR-S975Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6ParisFrance
  5. 5.Inserm, U 975ParisFrance
  6. 6.Centre d’Investigation Clinique, CHU Pitié-SalpêtrièreParisFrance

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