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Negative Acts at Work as Potential Bullying Behavior and Depression

Examining the Direction of the Association in a 2-Year Follow-Up Study

Hogh, Annie PhD; Conway, Paul M. PhD; Grynderup, Matias B. PhD; Gullander, Maria PhD; Willert, Morten V. PhD; Mikkelsen, Eva G. PhD; Persson, Roger PhD; Bonde, Jens Peter PhD; Kolstad, Henrik A. PhD; Mors, Ole PhD; Rugulies, Reiner PhD; Kaerlev, Linda PhD; Hansen, Åse Marie PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 3 - p e72–e79
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000622

Objective: This study investigates the 2-year prospective association between exposure to negative acts at work and depression.

Methods: A questionnaire study was carried out among 3363 employees and followed up 2 years later. Negative acts as potential bullying behavior were assessed by the Revised Negative Acts Questionnaire and depression by The Major Depression Inventory or Schedule for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry interviews. Logistic regression analyses tested potential associations between depression and negative acts.

Results: Exposure to negative acts was associated with depression 2 years later; however, when adjusting for Sense of Coherence and depressive symptoms at baseline the association was no longer significant. Conversely, depression at baseline predicted self-reported exposure to negative acts at follow-up.

Conclusions: Depression predicts exposure to negative acts at a 2-year follow-up, whereas negative acts do not predict depression after adjustment for Sense of Coherence and baseline depressive symptoms.

Department of Psychology (Dr Hogh, Dr Conway, Dr Rugulies); Department of Public Health (Dr Grynderup, Rugulies, Hansen), University of Copenhagen; Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Dr Gullander, Dr Bonde), Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen; Department of Occupational Health and Danish Ramazzini Centre (Dr Willert, Dr Kolstad), Aarhus University Hospital; CRECEA A/S (Dr Mikkelsen), Aarhus, Denmark; Department of Psychology (Dr Persson), Lund University, Sweden; Research Department P (Dr Mors), Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov; National Research Centre for the Working Environment (Dr Rugulies, Dr Hansen), Copenhagen; Research Unit of Clinical Epidemiology (Dr Kaerlev), Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense; Center for Clinical Epidemiology (Dr Kaerlev), Odense University Hospital, Denmark.

Address correspondence to: Annie Hogh, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Oster Farimagsgade 2A, 1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark (

The study was supported by the Danish Work Environment Research Fund (grant number: 20100019956). The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine