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Occupational stress and depression in Korean employees

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to analyze what aspects of occupational stress predict depression among Korean workers, and determine which components of occupational stress or job characteristics is more strongly associated with depression.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, a total of 8,522 workers (21–65 years of age) from a nationwide sample were recruited. A self-administered questionnaire was used to assess socio-demographics, job characteristics, depressive symptoms measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and occupational stress assessed by the Korean occupational stress scale (KOSS).

Results

Multivariate analyses show that inadequate social support (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.52, 1.66) and discomfort in occupational climate (OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.18, 1.32) were more important risk factors for depression than organizational injustice, job demand and job control. Compared to the ‘business activities’ industries, ‘recreational, cultural and sporting activities’ (OR = 3.45, 95% CI = 1.80, 6.58), ‘hotel and restaurants’ (OR = 3.34, 95% CI = 1.92, 5.80), ‘real estate and renting and leasing’ (OR = 2.24, 95% CI = 1.13, 4.44), ‘wholesale and retail’ (OR = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.28, 2.67), ‘transportation’ (OR = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.11, 3.07), and ‘financial institute and insurance’ (OR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.04, 2.48) industries had significantly greater risk of depression after controlling for gender, age, marital status, duration of employment and all subscale of KOSS.

Conclusion

The finding that inadequate social support and discomfort in occupational climate is a better predictor of depressive symptoms than organizational injustice in Korea, indicates that the newly developed KOSS has cultural relevance for assessing occupational stress in Korea. Future studies need to understand factors such as “emotional labor” within certain industries where increased risk for depression is observed.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute (2005). We thank to co-investigator of this project and the workers who responded our survey.

Conflict of interest statement

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Correspondence to Jung Jin Cho.

Appendix

Appendix

 

Items of Korean occupational stress scale

Subscale

Item No.

Questions

Difficult physical environment

1

My workplace is clean and comfortable

2

I am exposed to dangerous work and possibility of high risk of accidents

3

I have to work for a long time taking uncomfortable posture

High job demand

4

Due to many things to do, I always feel time pressure

5

I am asked to do another work before finishing the work I am doing

6

My job has become increasingly overloading

7

I feel myself responsible for coworkers and subordinates

8

My work requires a long lasting concentration

9

Sufficient rest is provided during working hours

10

I cannot do well at both work and home

11

I have to do various jobs simultaneously

Insufficient job control

12

My work requires creativity

13

Work-related things (i.e., work schedule, workload, meeting time, etc.) tend to change without notice

14

My work requires a high level of skill or knowledge

15

I can make my own decision in my job and give influence over the work

16

I can control my work pace and time schedule

Interpersonal conflict

17

My supervisor is helpful in getting the job done

18

My coworker is helpful in getting the job done

19

I have someone who understands my difficulties at work.

20

I have a co-worker(s) to share my problems at work

Job insecurity

21

I can easily get a new job when I quit my job

22

I can easily find a new job equal to the condition of the current job

23

My future is uncertain because the current situation of my company is unstable

24

I can hardly be fired or unemployed

25

It is possible to lose my job within 2 years

26

Undesirable changes (i.e., downsizing) will come to my job

Organizational injustice

27

The organizational policy of my company is fair and reasonable

28

My company provides me with sufficient organizational supports

29

Departments cooperate each other without conflicts

30

All company members cooperate in harmony for the company

31

I have opportunities and channels to talk about my ideas

32

I expect my carrier development and promotion to progress as I plan

33

My current status is appropriate for my education and career

Lack of reward

34

My job is under my expectation

35

My salary is not appropriate to my effort and work performance

36

I acquire respect and confidence from my company

37

I am interested in my job

38

I believe that I will be given more rewards from my company if I work hard

39

I am provided with opportunity of developing my capacity

Discomfort in occupational climate

40

Dining out after work makes me uncomfortable

41

I am asked to do my work with irrational principle or inconsistency

42

My company climate is authoritative and hierarchical

43

I take disadvantages since I am woman (man)

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Cho, J.J., Kim, J.Y., Chang, S.J. et al. Occupational stress and depression in Korean employees. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 82, 47–57 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-008-0306-4

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