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Scand J Work Environ Health. 2010 Nov;36(6):435-44. Epub 2010 Jun 2.

Person-related work and incident use of antidepressants: relations and mediating factors from the Danish work environment cohort study.

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National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Lerso Park Allé 105, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Previous Danish studies have shown that employees who "work with people" (i.e., do person-related work) are at increased risk of hospitalization with a diagnosis of depression. However, these studies were purely register-based and consequently unable to point to factors underlying this elevated risk. This paper examines whether person-related work is associated with incident use of antidepressants, and whether this association is mediated by several work environment exposures.


Self-reported data from the Danish work environment cohort study in 2000 were linked with the use of antidepressants between 2001-2006. We included 4958 respondents in our study after excluding those with severe depressive symptoms or use of antidepressants at baseline.


Compared to employees doing non-person-related work, the use of antidepressants was increased statistically significantly for healthcare workers and statistically non-significantly for educational workers. The use of antidepressants was not elevated for social or customer service workers, or those doing "other" types of person-related work. The increased risks of antidepressant-use for healthcare and educational workers were attenuated when adjusted for emotional demands at work.


The results imply that healthcare and educational workers in Denmark are at increased risk of depression and that this risk is partly mediated by the high emotional demands of the work.

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