Study finds work-related stress leads to depression, lower productivity
The findings, which appear in the American Journal of Health Promotion, highlight an examination of a group of employees between 2001 and 2003. Researchers screened 14,268 adult employees and ultimately compared 286 depressed workers to 193 who were not depressed.
In many cases, the depressed employees had problems at work, according to Debra Lerner, lead author of the study and director of the program on health, work and productivity at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center.
"They're often very fatigued and have motivational issues," she said. "They also may have difficulty handling the pacing of work, managing a routine, performing physical job tasks and managing their usual workload."
Lerner said the study suggests that there is a link between productivity and an employee's ability to control his work.
Ronald Kessler, a professor in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, said the findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence that depression has important adverse effects on work performance, both absenteeism and on-the-job performance. Depression, he said, has a greater effect on attendance and productivity than the vast majority of other health conditions, with the exception of musculoskeletal problems and insomnia.
"This evidence has led to the development of several workplace depression screening and treatment programs," Kessler said. "Evaluations are beginning to show that these programs can be cost-effective when implemented carefully in reducing the indirect workplace costs of depression."
What can employers do when it comes to depressed workers? Lerner said companies are going to need more ways to help those who want to continue working to be able to do so and sustain their productivity.
"There is a large economic cost and a human cost," she said. "We need to develop and test programs that directly try to address the employment of people with depression."
Read more at the WORKERSCOMP ForumTM homepage.
February 4, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications