Onset of workplace sexual harassment and subsequent depressive symptoms and incident depressive disorder in the Danish workforce

Tidsskriftartikel - 2020

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BACKGROUND: We studied onset of workplace sexual harassment and subsequent risk of depressive symptoms and depressive disorder.

METHODS: We examined 9,981 individuals who participated in the Work Environment and Health in Denmark survey in 2012 and 2014 and 6,647 individuals who also participated in 2016, all unexposed to sexual harassment in 2012. Depressive symptoms and disorder were assessed with the Major Depression Inventory. Using linear regression, we estimated the associations between onset of sexual harassment in the 12 months preceding the 2014 survey and depressive symptoms in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Using logistic regression, we estimated risk of incident depressive disorder in 2014.

RESULTS: Onset of sexual harassment was associated with elevated depressive symptoms in 2014, both for harassment by non-workplace personnel (e.g., patients, estimate (B): 1.61, 95% CI: 0.51-2.72, p = 0.004) and workplace personnel (e.g., supervisors, B: 3.85, 95% CI: 2.51-5.20, p < 0.001), after adjustment for depressive symptoms in 2012. Harassment by workplace personnel was further associated with elevated depressive symptoms in 2016 after adjustment for symptoms in 2012, but not after adjustment for symptoms in 2014. Harassment by workplace personnel was associated with incident depressive disorder in 2014 (odds ratio: 5.26, 95% CI: 2.68-10.31, p < 0.001).

LIMITATIONS: Depressive symptoms and disorder were assessed with a validated self-administered rating scale but not a clinical diagnostic interview. Participants reporting harassment in 2014 had elevated depressive symptoms already in 2012 requiring future investigation.

CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to sexual harassments at the workplace may be a contributing factor in the aetiology of depressive symptoms and disorder.

Reference

Rugulies R, Sørensen K, Aldrich PT, Folker AP, Friborg MK, Kjær S, Nielsen MBD, Sørensen JK, Madsen IEH. Onset of workplace sexual harassment and subsequent depressive symptoms and incident depressive disorder in the Danish workforce. Journal of Affective Disorders 2020;277:21-29.
doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.06.058

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