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Psychosocial Exposures at Work and Mental Health: Potential Utility of a Job-Exposure Matrix

Cohidon, Christine MD, PhD; Santin, Gaëlle MSc; Chastang, Jean-François PhD; Imbernon, Ellen MD; Niedhammer, Isabelle PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 2 - p 184–191
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31823fdf3b
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the associations between psychosocial exposures at work and depressive symptoms by using two independent French national databases.

Methods: A job-exposure matrix of psychosocial work exposures was constructed from data collected by the national medical monitoring of occupational risks survey in 2003. Depressive symptoms came from the 2002 to 2003 decennial health survey. Data were linked by age, occupational group, and economic activity.

Results: The crude and adjusted results showed small but significant and systematic associations between job strain and depressive symptoms among men. These associations were much weaker for psychological demands and decision latitude. No statistical associations were observed among women.

Conclusion: The results suggest that, among men, using independent data on exposure and health, there is a robust association between job strain and depressive symptoms. They contribute to the debate about the causal nature of associations between psychosocial exposures at work and mental health.

From the Occupational Health Department (Drs Cohidon and Imbernon and Ms Santin), French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS), Saint-Maurice, France; Epidemiological Research and Surveillance Unit in Transport (Dr Cohidon), Occupation and Environment, Lyon, France; INSERM (Drs Chastang and Niedhammer), U1018, CESP Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Epidemiology of Occupational and Social Determinants of Health Team Villejuif, Université Paris-Sud, and Université de Versailles St-Quentin, France.

Address correspondence to: Christine Cohidon, MD, PhD, UMRESTTE (InVS–UCBL–Inrets), Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, 8 Avenue Rockefeller, 69373 Lyon cedex 08, France (

Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine