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Difficult work conditions and youths' mental health: selection or causation?

Smailes EM
Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC., 2003 Nov; :1-221
This prospective longitudinal study examined the effect of two work conditions (work demands and decision latitude) and their interaction on five measures of mental illness: depressive, anxiety, and alcohol abuse disorder, as well as depressive and anxiety symptoms. Participants included 604 working young adults (M age: 22), a subsample of a randomly selected sample in a community-based longitudinal study. Information on family environment, youth characteristics, and mental illness were gathered prospectively during interviews in 1983, 1985-1986, and 1992. Youths who were working in 1992 or in the previous year were asked questions about the two work conditions. Relationships between work conditions and mental illness were modeled using hierarchical linear and logistic regression as well as structural equation modeling and two stage least squares analyses. Results indicated that young adult alcohol abuse disorder was predicted from the interaction between work demands and decision latitude. An additive effect of the work condition constructs was found for young adults with depressive symptoms and an independent effect of decision latitude was found for young adults with anxiety disorder. In these analyses, demographics, work status, concurrent disorders or symptoms, and prior disorder or symptoms were controlled. Difficult work conditions appear to negatively impact the mental health outcomes, only the relationships between the work conditions and young adult depressive disorder were accounted for by prior mental illness. However, selection and causal effects were also found for depressive and anxiety symptoms, suggesting that prior mental illness is an important factor in understanding the relationship between work demands, decision latitude, and young adults' mental illness.
Work-environment; Mental-health; Alcoholism; Stress; Models; Mathematical-models; Demographic-characteristics; Age-factors; Sex-factors; Racial-factors; Sociological-factors
Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, 600 West 168th 4th Floor, New York, NY 10032
Publication Date
Document Type
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Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Organization of Work
Source Name
Difficult work conditions and youths' mental health: selection or causation?
Performing Organization
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene Inc., New York, New York
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
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