Unrewarding work and major depressive episode

Journal of Psychiatric ResearchScott Cunningham MD PhD, et al. | November 21, 2022



It has been shown that an imbalance between effort and reward in the workplace leads to active distress. Moreover, active distress is exacerbated by workers who are committed to their work compared to non-committed workers. Together, these factors are associated with adverse health outcomes, and as shown in the current study, major depression.

Data were obtained for this prospective study with a 9-y follow-up from the Mid-life in the US Study (MIDUS).

The 1591 participants were assessed for effort-reward imbalance at baseline using a validated 17-item scale. A major depressive episode in the past 12 months was assessed at baseline and follow-up using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form.

Participants in the cross-sectional and prospective groups within the highest quartile of effort-reward imbalance were at highest risk for a major depressive episode (OR = 1.47 and RR = 1.29, respectively).