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Are there bidirectional relationships between psychosocial work characteristics and depressive symptoms? A fixed effects analysis of Swedish national panel survey data

Version 3 2024-06-18, 14:40
Version 2 2024-06-03, 21:41
Version 1 2019-05-17, 10:18
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-18, 14:40 authored by JK Åhlin, Tony LaMontagneTony LaMontagne, LL Magnusson Hanson
ObjectivesPsychosocial work characteristics have been prospectively associated with depressive symptoms. However, methodological limitations have raised questions regarding causality. It is also unclear to what extent depressive symptoms affect the experience of the psychosocial work environment. We examined contemporaneous (measured simultaneously) and lagged bidirectional relationships between psychosocial work characteristics and depressive symptoms, simultaneously controlling for time-stable individual characteristics.MethodsWe included 3947 subjects in the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH), with self-reported job demands, control, social support, work efforts, rewards, procedural justice and depressive symptoms in four waves 2010–2016. We applied dynamic panel models with fixed effects, using structural equation modelling, adjusting for all time-stable individual characteristics such as personality and pre-employment factors.ResultsHigher levels of job demands, job demands in relation to control, work efforts and efforts in relation to rewards were contemporaneously associated with more depressive symptoms (standardised β: 0.18–0.25, p<0.001), while higher levels of workplace social support, rewards at work and procedural justice were associated with less depressive symptoms (β: −0.18, p<0.001,β: –0.16, p<0.001 and β: −0.09, p<0.01, respectively). In contrast, only work efforts predicted higher levels of depressive symptoms 2 years later (β: 0.05, p<0.05). No other lagged associations were found in any direction.ConclusionsAfter controlling for all time-invariant confounding, our results suggest that psychosocial work characteristics predominantly affect depressive symptoms immediately or with only a short time lag. Furthermore, we found no evidence of reverse causation. This indicates short-term causal associations, although the temporal precedence of psychosocial work characteristics remains uncertain.

History

Journal

Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Volume

76

Pagination

455-461

Location

England

Open access

  • Yes

ISSN

1351-0711

eISSN

1470-7926

Language

English

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, The Authors

Issue

7

Publisher

BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP