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Prevalence and correlates of psychological distress in a large and diverse public sector workforce: Baseline results from Partnering Healthy@Work


Jarman, L and Martin, A and Venn, A and Otahal, P and Taylor, R and Teale, B and Sanderson, K, Prevalence and correlates of psychological distress in a large and diverse public sector workforce: Baseline results from Partnering Healthy@Work, BMC Public Health, 14 Article 125. ISSN 1471-2458 (2014) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 The Authors-this article has been distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 2.0)

DOI: doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-125


Background: Depressive and anxiety disorders are common among working adults and costly to employers and individuals. Mental health screening is often an important initial strategy, but the resultant data are often of unknown representativeness and difficult to interpret. In a public sector workforce, this study used a brief screener for depression/anxiety to: a) compare prevalence of high psychological distress obtained from a researcher survey with an employer survey and population norms and b) verify whether expected correlates were observed in a screening setting. Methods. Participants were public servants working for an Australian state government. High psychological distress (Kessler-10 ≥22) stratified by age and sex was compared for a random weighted sample researcher survey (n = 3406) and an anonymous volunteer employer survey (n = 7715). Prevalence ratios (PR) were estimated from log binomial regression. Results: Referencing the researcher survey, prevalence of high psychological distress was greater by age and sex in the employer survey but was only dependably higher for men when compared with population norms. Modelling suggested this may be due to work stress (effort-reward imbalance) (PR = 3.19, 95% CI 1.45-7.01) and casual/fixed-term employment (PR 2.64, 95% CI 1.26-5.56). Conclusions: Depression and anxiety screening using typical employer survey methods could overestimate prevalence but expected correlates are observed in a screening setting. Guidance for employers on screening and interpretation should be provided to encourage engagement with mental health prevention and treatment programs in the workplace. © 2014 Jarman et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Correlates; Health risk appraisal; K10; Prevalence; Psychological distress; Public sector; Workplace
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Jarman, L (Ms Lisa Jarman)
UTAS Author:Martin, A (Professor Angela Martin)
UTAS Author:Venn, A (Professor Alison Venn)
UTAS Author:Otahal, P (Mr Petr Otahal)
UTAS Author:Sanderson, K (Associate Professor Kristy Sanderson)
ID Code:91339
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2014-05-14
Last Modified:2017-11-03
Downloads:840 View Download Statistics

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