Occupational position, work stress and depressive symptoms: A pathway analysis of longitudinal SHARE data

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BACKGROUND: Several studies tested whether stressful work mediates the association between socioeconomic position (SEP) and health. Although providing moderate support, evidence is still inconclusive, partly due to a lack of theory-based measures of SEP and work stress, and because of methodological limitations. This contribution aims at overcoming these limitations.<br /><br />METHODS: We conduct pathway analysis and investigate indirect effects of SEP on mental health via stressful work. Data are derived from the first two waves of the 'Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe' (SHARE) with information from employed men and women aged 50-64 across 11 European countries (N=2798). SEP is measured according to two alternative measures of occupational position: occupational class (focus on employment relations) and occupational status (focus on prestige). We assess work stress according to the effort-reward imbalance and the demand-control model (wave 1), and we use newly occurring depressive symptoms as health outcome (wave 2).<br /><br />RESULTS: Effort-reward imbalance and, less consistently, low control mediate the effect of occupational class and occupational status on depressive symptoms.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Our findings point to two important aspects of work stress (effort-reward imbalance and low control) in explaining socioeconomic differences in health. Further, we illustrate the significance of two alternative dimensions of occupational position, occupational class and occupational status.




Hoven, H., Wahrendorf, M., & Siegrist, J. (2015). Occupational position, work stress and depressive symptoms: A pathway analysis of longitudinal SHARE data. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 69(5), 447–452. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech-2014-205206

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