Occupational stress and depression in Korean employees

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

None.

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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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Keywords

  • Depression
  • Occupational stress
  • Korean occupational stress scale (KOSS)
  • Emotional labor