Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 899–907

The association between type and number of adverse working conditions and mental health during a time of economic crisis (2010–2012)

  • Margreet ten Have
  • Saskia van Dorsselaer
  • Ron de Graaf
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-015-1009-2

Cite this article as:
ten Have, M., van Dorsselaer, S. & de Graaf, R. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2015) 50: 899. doi:10.1007/s00127-015-1009-2



Many studies have been published on the association between adverse psychosocial working conditions and mental health, but only a few related types of adverse job conditions and a count of these adversities to workers’ mental health, using standardized diagnostic interviews. This study addresses this issue.


Data were used from the second wave of the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2, a nationally representative face-to-face survey of the general population, including 3,672 workers, 166 unemployed and 239 disabled persons. Among workers, psychosocial working conditions (decision latitude, psychological job demands, job security and co-worker support) were assessed with the Job Content Questionnaire. Mental health symptoms were assessed with the Mental Health Inventory (MHI)-5 and DSM-IV diagnoses/syndromes with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0.


Adverse psychosocial job conditions were related to workers’ mental health. The strongest association was found for low job security which increased the chance of mental health symptoms and mental disorders by twofold. Workers in the poorest quality jobs, i.e. experiencing at least three adverse working conditions, had a 3 to almost 5 times higher chance of mental disorders than those in the most optimal jobs. Having a poor quality job was not associated with better mental health compared to being unemployed or disabled. In general, similar relations were found for mood, anxiety and substance use disorders.


In planning future strategies to prevent mental disorders at the workplace, the focus should be on workers who experience job insecurity and on those who report several adversities.


Population survey Work–psychological aspects Mental disorders Job satisfaction Job stress 

Supplementary material

127_2015_1009_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margreet ten Have
    • 1
  • Saskia van Dorsselaer
    • 1
  • Ron de Graaf
    • 1
  1. 1.Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and AddictionUtrechtThe Netherlands

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