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Int J Disabil Hum Dev. 2008;7(2):185-200.

The impact of work environment on mood disorders and suicide: Evidence and implications.

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Department of Psychiatry, Seoul Paik Hospital, Inje University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence estimating an impact of occupational factors on mood disorders and suicide, and the efficacy of interventions. This review is based on literature searches using Medline and Psych INFO from 1966 to 2007 (keywords: work stress, job insecurity, job strain, shift work, violence, occupational health, mood disorders, depression, and suicide). To establish the relationship between occupational variables and mood disorders, we focused on clinically significant disorders rather than depressive symptoms. During the last decade, prospective epidemiological studies have suggested a predictive association between the work environment and mood disorders. Recently, increasing numbers of clinical trials have shown favorable effect size of intervention and suggested preferable return-on-investment results. However, low awareness and social stigma still decrease workers access to treatment. Mental health professionals in conjunction with employers have to devise a creative system to make the quality care being offered more accessible to employees. In addition, further outcome data is needed to evaluate the benefit of managing mood disorders in the workplace, and to foster awareness of positive implications for employees, employers, their families, and the society at large. In addition, the work environment, with its chemical (e.g. chemosensory factors, pollutants), physical (e.g. lighting, noise, temperature, outdoor views and activities), biological (e.g., chronobiological factors, allergens, infectious agents), psychological (e.g. demand-control, effort-reward balance), social (e.g. cohesiveness, support), and organizational (e.g. leadership styles) component should meet minimal standards, and may improve with striving towards the optimum.

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