Occupational position and its relation to mental distress in a random sample of Danish residents

  • Rugulies R
  • Madsen I
  • Nielsen M
 et al. 
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PURPOSE: To analyze the distribution of depressive, anxiety, and somatization symptoms across different occupational positions in a random sample of Danish residents. METHODS: The study sample consisted of 591 Danish residents (50% women), aged 20-65, drawn from an age- and gender-stratified random sample of the Danish population. Participants filled out a survey that included the 92 item version of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (SCL-92). We categorized occupational position into seven groups: high- and low-grade non-manual workers, skilled and unskilled manual workers, high- and low-grade self-employed, and unemployed. RESULTS: Compared to the reference group of high-grade non-manual workers, the depressive symptom score was statistically significantly elevated among unskilled manual workers (P = 0.043) and the unemployed (P < 0.001), after adjustment for age, gender, cohabitation, life events, and low household income. The anxiety symptom score was elevated only among the unemployed (P = 0.004). The somatization symptom score was elevated among unskilled manual workers (P = 0.002), the low-grade self-employed (P = 0.023), and the unemployed (P = 0.001). When we analyzed caseness of severe symptoms, we found that unskilled manual workers (OR = 3.27, 95% CI = 1.06-10.04) and the unemployed (OR = 6.20, 95% CI = 1.98-19.42) had a higher prevalence of severe depressive symptoms, compared to the reference group of high-grade non-manual workers. The unemployed also had a higher prevalence of severe somatization symptoms (OR = 6.28, 95% CI = 1.39-28.46). CONCLUSIONS: Unskilled manual workers, the unemployed, and, to a lesser extent, the low-grade self-employed showed an increased level of mental distress. Activities to promote mental health in the Danish population should be directed toward these groups.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental disorders
  • Social class
  • Somatization disorders
  • Workplace

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  • Reiner Rugulies

  • Ida E.H. Madsen

  • Maj Britt D. Nielsen

  • Lis R. Olsen

  • Erik L. Mortensen

  • Per Bech

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