A multilevel study on the association of observer-assessed working conditions with depressive symptoms among female eldercare workers from 56 work units in 10 care homes in Denmark

OBJECTIVES: Eldercare workers in Denmark have a higher prevalence of poor psychological health than other occupational groups. We examined the association between working conditions assessed by trained observers and depressive symptoms assessed by self-report in a study of female Danish eldercare workers.
METHODS: Working conditions were observed based on action regulation theory and defined as (1) regulation requirements, a workplace resource providing opportunity for decision-making and skill development and (2) barriers for task completion. We examined the associations of individual and work unit averaged working conditions with depressive symptoms in a sample of 95 individually observed eldercare workers. Further, we examined the association of work unit averaged working conditions with depressive symptoms in a sample of 205 care workers, including both observed and non-observed individuals. We used regression models that allowed for correlations within work units and care homes and adjusted these models for demographics, job characteristics and stressful life events.
RESULTS: Higher levels of regulation requirements were associated with lower depressive symptoms at the individual level (p=0.04), but not at the workplace level. Barriers were not associated with depressive symptoms at the individual level. At the workplace level, a higher number of qualitatively different barriers (p=0.04) and a higher number of barriers for equipment use (p=0.03) were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms in the age and cohabitation adjusted model, however statistical significance was lost in the fully adjusted model.
CONCLUSIONS: Low level of regulation requirements was associated with a high level of depressive symptoms. The study highlights the importance of examining both individual and workplace levels of working conditions.

Source: Jakobsen LM, Jorgensen AF, Thomsen BL, Greiner BA, Rugulies R. BMJ Open, 2015; 5(11).

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