NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Effort-reward imbalance and medically certified absence for mental health problems: a prospective study of white-collar workers.

Ndjaboué R; Brisson C; Vézina M; Blanchette C; Bourbonnais R
Occup Environ Med 2014 Jan; 71(1):40-47
OBJECTIVE: Little is known about the effects of psychosocial work factors on objectively assessed mental health problems leading to medically certified absence. Only one study has evaluated the prospective effects of effort-reward imbalance (ERI) at work with regards to this outcome. The present study aimed to evaluate the effects of ERI on the incidence of medically certified absence for mental health problems. METHODS: The study included 2086 white-collar workers (63.3% women) employed in public organisations in Quebec city. Participants were followed over a 9-year period. Medical absences from work were collected from employers' files and psychosocial factors were measured using the ERI questionnaire. Cox regression models were used to estimate the incidence of certified sickness absence due to mental health problems that lasted 5 workdays or more, while controlling for confounders. RESULTS: Workers exposed to ERI had a higher risk of a first spell of medically certified absence for mental health problems (HR=1.38, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.76) compared with unexposed workers. Low reward was significantly associated with a high risk among men (HR=2.80, 95% CI 1.34 to 5.89) but not in women. (HR=1.24, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.73). Effort at work had no effect on certified absence. All these effects were adjusted for potential confounders. CONCLUSIONS: ERI and low reward at work were prospectively associated with medically certified absence for mental health problems. These effects seem to differ by gender. Primary prevention that is aimed at reducing these stressors should be considered to help reduce the incidence of such severe mental health problems.
Humans; Men; Women; Mental health; Psychology; Psychological effects; Workers; Questionnaires; Statistical analysis; Demographic characteristics; Psychological stress; Psychological effects; Stress; Etiology; Exposure levels; Age groups; Sex factors
Ruth Ndjaboue, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec, Unité de recherche en santé des populations, 1050 chemin Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada, G1S 4L8
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-007647; M022014
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Performing Organization
University of Quebec
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division