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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2010 Oct;34(5):458-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2010.00590.x.

Employee psychological distress and treated prevalence by indices of rurality.

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  • 1School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia.



Although there is population data on the prevalence and treated prevalence of mental disorders by urban-rural indices, there is a lacuna of information pertaining to employees. This paper examines the prevalence and treated prevalence of psychological distress in employees by urban-rural indicators.


Cross-sectional employee Health and Performance at Work Questionnaire responses (n=78,726 from 58 large companies) are interrogated by indices of remoteness (Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia), psychological distress (Kessler 6) and treatment-seeking behaviours for mental health problems.


The overall prevalence of moderate or high psychological distress in employees was 35.2%. The prevalence varied only slightly (maximum to minimum difference of 4.6%) by rural/remote indices. Overall treatment-seeking behaviour for psychological distress was low (22.5%). The percentage of employees seeking treatment for high levels of psychological distress was the lowest in very remote regions (15.1%).


Very remote employees are less likely to access mental health treatments and may be an employee subgroup that would benefit from specific employer health interventions aimed to increase treatment-seeking behaviours.


Employees in very remote Australia could benefit from specific interventions aimed to increase mental health awareness/literacy.

© 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2010 Public Health Association of Australia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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