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J Occup Environ Med. 2013 Oct;55(10):1197-204. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31829c76b3.

Construction workers struggle with a high prevalence of mental distress, and this is associated with their pain and injuries.

Author information

  • 1From the Harvard School of Public Health (Drs Jacobsen, Caban-Martinez, Sorensen, Dennerlein, and Reme and Ms Onyebeke), Northeastern University (Dr Dennerlein), and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Dr Sorensen), Boston, Mass; Uni Health (Dr Reme), Uni Research, Bergen, Norway; and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Dr Jacobsen), Trondheim, Norway.

Erratum in

  • J Occup Environ Med. 2014 Sep;56(9):e80-1.



We aimed to investigate how mental distress was associated with pain and injuries in a convenience sample of construction workers.


A cross-sectional, mental health assessment was conducted in a convenience sample of construction workers (N = 172). A subsample participated in a clinical interview (n = 10). We used a cutoff (1.50 or greater) on Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 to determine substantial mental distress and determined associations with pain and injury outcomes.


The prevalence of substantial mental distress was 16% in the workers. This was supported by follow-up clinical interviews where 9 of 10 workers fulfilled the criteria for a mental disorder. Substantial mental distress was associated with both injury rate and self-reported pain.


This pilot study strongly suggests the need for rigorous studies on construction worker mental health and how it affects their work and well-being.

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