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Sociol Health Illn. 2005 Jul;27(5):602-27.

Do occupation and work conditions really matter? A longitudinal analysis of psychological distress experiences among Canadian workers.

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Health and Prevention Social Research Group, University of Montreal, Canada.


This study analyses the relationship between occupation, work conditions and the experience of psychological distress within a model encompassing the stress promoted by constraints-resources embedded in macrosocial structures (occupational structure), structures of daily life (workplace, family, social networks outside the workplace) and agent personality (demography, physical health, psychological traits, life habits, stressful childhood events). Longitudinal data were derived from Statistics Canada's National Population Health Survey and comprised 6,359 workers nested in 471 occupations, followed four times between 1994-1995 and 2000-2001. Discrete time survival multilevel regressions were conducted on first and repeated episodes of psychological distress. Results showed that 42.9 per cent of workers had reported one episode of psychological distress and 18.7 per cent had done so more than once. Data supported the model and challenged the results of previous studies. The individual's position in the occupational structure plays a limited role when the structures of daily life and agent personality are accounted for. In the workplace, job insecurity and social support are important determinants, but greater decision authority increases the risk of psychological distress. Workplace constraints-resources are not moderated either by the other structures of daily life or by agent personality.

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