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Persistent and contemporaneous effects of job stressors on mental health: a study testing multiple analytic approaches across 13 waves of annually collected cohort data
  1. Allison Milner1,2,
  2. Zoe Aitken2,
  3. Anne Kavanagh2,
  4. Anthony D LaMontagne1,2,
  5. Dennis Petrie3
  1. 1Work, Health and Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Population Health Research, School of Health & Social Development, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
  2. 2Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Allison Milner, Work, Health & Wellbeing, Population Health Strategic Research Centre, Building BC3.213, School of Health & Social Development, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC 3125 Australia; allison.milner{at}deakin.edu.au

Abstract

Objectives This study investigated the extent that psychosocial job stressors had lasting effects on a scaled measure of mental health. We applied econometric approaches to a longitudinal cohort to: (1) control for unmeasured individual effects; (2) assess the role of prior (lagged) exposures of job stressors on mental health and (3) the persistence of mental health.

Methods We used a panel study with 13 annual waves and applied fixed-effects, first-difference and fixed-effects Arellano-Bond models. The Short Form 36 (SF-36) Mental Health Component Summary score was the outcome variable and the key exposures included: job control, job demands, job insecurity and fairness of pay.

Results Results from the Arellano-Bond models suggest that greater fairness of pay (β-coefficient 0.34, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.45), job control (β-coefficient 0.15, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.20) and job security (β-coefficient 0.37, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.42) were contemporaneously associated with better mental health. Similar results were found for the fixed-effects and first-difference models. The Arellano-Bond model also showed persistent effects of individual mental health, whereby individuals' previous reports of mental health were related to their reporting in subsequent waves. The estimated long-run impact of job demands on mental health increased after accounting for time-related dynamics, while there were more minimal impacts for the other job stressor variables.

Conclusions Our results showed that the majority of the effects of psychosocial job stressors on a scaled measure of mental health are contemporaneous except for job demands where accounting for the lagged dynamics was important.

  • lagged effects
  • psychosocial job stressors

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