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Psychiatr Serv. 2004 Dec;55(12):1371-8.

Unemployment, job retention, and productivity loss among employees with depression.

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  • 1Health Institute, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.



This study comprehensively assessed the work outcomes of employees with depression.


We collected baseline and six-month follow-up survey data from 229 employees with depression and two employee comparison groups: a group of healthy patients for the control group (N=173) and a group with rheumatoid arthritis (N=87), a frequent source of work disability. Outcomes included new unemployment and, within the employed subgroup, job retention (versus job turnover), presenteeism (that is, diminished on-the-job performance and productivity), and absenteeism.


At the six-month follow-up, persons with depression had more new unemployment--14 percent for persons in the dysthymia group, 12 percent for persons in the major depression group, and 15 percent for persons in the group with both dysthymia and major depression, compared with 2 percent for persons in the control group and 3 percent for persons in the rheumatoid arthritis group. Among participants who were still employed, those with depression had significantly more job turnover, presenteeism, and absenteeism.


In addition to helping employees with depression obtain high-quality depression treatment, new interventions may be needed to help them to overcome the substantial job upheaval that this population experiences.

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