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292 Assessment of psychosocial exposure: How to escape the triviality trap?
  1. J P B Bonde1,
  2. Gullander2,
  3. Grynderup3,
  4. Willert3,
  5. Hansen4,
  6. Høgh5,
  7. Persson6,
  8. Thomsen7,
  9. Mors8,
  10. Rugulies9,
  11. Kolstad3
  1. 1Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Occupational and Environmental medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. 3Department of Occupational Medicine, Danish Ramazzini Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  4. 4Department of Public Health, Copenhagen University, Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5Department of Psychology, Copenhagen University, Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. 6The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. 7Department of Occupational and Environmental medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  8. 8Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov, Aarhus, Denmark
  9. 9The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract

Objectives Workplace bullying may be a strong determinant of major depression, but only a few studies provide prospective data and none provide independent information on bullying. In a follow-up study we analysed newly-onset depression in relation to workplace bullying measured at the individual level (perceived bullying) and at the work-unit level (witnesses reporting bullying).

Methods Danish employees were recruited from two Danish cohorts of 3.743 and 2.617 workers, respectively. Cohort members received a questionnaire at baseline in 2006–07 with two-wave follow-ups in 2008–09 and 2011. Workplace bullying was measured by self-labelling and by the proportion of employees in a work unit who had witnessed workplace bullying “now and again” to “daily” over the past 6 months. For the latter purpose all participants were identified with their work-unit (471 work units, number of employees ranging between 1 and 161). The work-units were grouped according to the proportion of employees. who had witnessed workplace bullying within their work units. New cases of depression were diagnosed at the end of two-year follow-up periods using Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN) interviews and the Major Depression Inventory questionnaire.

Results During the follow-up period, we identified 177 new cases of depression. The odds ratio for newly-onset depression among participants reporting bullying occasionally was 1.62 [95% CI 0.95–2.77] and among those reporting bullying often it was 5.73 [95% CI 2.37–13.90]. The risk of newly-onset depression by percentage of employees witnessing bullying in work-units was for 1–20%: 0.83 [95% CI 0.48–1.43], 21–30%: 0.87 [95% CI 0.49–1.55], and >30%: 1.08 [95% CI 0.61–1.90].

Conclusions Self-reported frequent bullying predicts development of depression but a work environment defined by witnesses of bullying does not. These findings have implications for the understanding of workplace bullying and options for preventive actions.

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