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The Prevalence and Impact of Depression in Self-Referred Clients Attending an Employee Assistance Program

Lam, Raymond W. MD; Wolinsky, Debra MEd; Kinsella, Cynthia BA; Woo, Cindy BA; Cayley, Paula M. MSW; Walker, Anne B. MSW

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 11 - p 1395–1399
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182611a69
Original Articles

Objective: To determine the prevalence and characteristics of clients with depression attending an employee assistance program (EAP).

Methods: Anonymized data were obtained from 10,794 consecutive clients, including 9105 employees, self-referred to PPC Canada, a large, external EAP. Assessment measures included the self-rated nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Clinical characteristics of depressed clients (PHQ-9 score ≥10) were compared with those of nondepressed clients.

Results: Thirty-seven percent of the employee sample met PHQ-9 criteria for clinically significant depression. Compared with clients without depression, they had significantly higher rates of anxiety, psychotropic medication use, problem substance use, global problems with functioning, absenteeism, impairment in work-related tasks, and low job satisfaction.

Conclusions: A large proportion of EAP clients were clinically depressed with associated negative effects on personal and occupational functioning.

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia (Dr Lam and Ms Woo); PPC Canada (Ms Wolinsky and Ms Kinsella); and formerly with Interlock (Ms Cayley and Ms Walker), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Raymond W. Lam, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, 2255 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 2A1, Canada (

This study was funded by catalyst grant CMH-94596 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

RWL is an ad hoc speaker/on advisory boards for, or has received research funds from, Aquaceutica, AstraZeneca, Biovail, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments, Canadian Psychiatric Association Foundation, Eli Lilly, Litebook Company, Lundbeck, Lundbeck Institute, Mochida, Pfizer, Servier, St. Jude Medical, Takeda, and UBC Institute of Mental Health/Coast Capital Savings. DW and CK are employees of PPC Canada (formerly Interlock). CW has no disclosures. PMC and ABW are former employees of Interlock.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine