The Psychosocial Work Environment and Maternal Postpartum Depression

  • Rada K. Dagher
  • Patricia M. McGovern
  • Bruce H. Alexander
  • Bryan E. Dowd
  • Laurie K. Ukestad
  • David J. McCaffrey



Postpartum depression is a debilitating mental disorder affecting women after childbirth. This study examined the correlates of postpartum depression at 11 weeks after childbirth, focusing on work-related stressors and applying the job demand–control–support model.


Investigators recruited a prospective cohort of 817 employed Minnesota women when hospitalized for childbirth in 2001. Trained interviewers collected data in person and by telephone at enrollment and 5 and 11 weeks postpartum from three Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals.


Results of hierarchical regression analysis showed that worse depression scores (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) were associated with higher psychological demands, lower schedule autonomy, and lower perceived control over work and family. Perceptions of control mediated the relationships of coworker support and schedule autonomy with postpartum depression scores. Study findings showed no significant buffering effects for decision latitude; however, coworker support and decision latitude appear to act as functional substitutes in reducing postpartum depressive symptoms.


These findings raise questions about the applicability of the job demand–control–support model to postpartum women or to postpartum depression. Future research could assess the impact of the interaction between the work and home environment on maternal postpartum depression.


Demand–control–support model Job control Psychosocial factors Postpartum depression Maternal welfare 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rada K. Dagher
    • 1
  • Patricia M. McGovern
    • 2
  • Bruce H. Alexander
    • 2
  • Bryan E. Dowd
    • 3
  • Laurie K. Ukestad
    • 4
  • David J. McCaffrey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, College of Public Health and Health ProfessionsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.Division of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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