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Study: Depression varies by occupational industry and gender (10/24)

October 24, 2008
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Gordian Health Solutions, Inc., a leading national personal health coaching company, released the results of a study this week showing that employees in different occupational industries report varying levels of depressive symptoms. Of the 13 occupational industries the study examined, the highest percentage of employees who reported feeling depressed for two weeks or more in the past year were those in the arts-entertainment-recreation, retail trade and utilities industries, according to a press release.

The study also looked at depression by gender and found that self-reported depression in these industries was almost 10% higher for females than for their male counterparts:
  • Arts-entertainment-recreation: 29% of female employees self-reported depressive symptoms occurring for two weeks or more over the past year, compared to 18% of male employees
  • Retail trade: 29% of females, 19% of males
  • Utilities: 27% of females, 16% of males
The Gordian study found similar industry and gender patterns for self-reported lifetime prevalence of depressive symptoms, with the highest percentage of employees reporting feeling depressed for two years or more in their lifetime in the retail trade, public administration, arts-entertainment-recreation, finance-insurance and utilities industries. The lowest rates of lifetime prevalence of depressive symptoms were noted in the management consulting, educational services and food manufacturing industries.

“Depression among employees is extremely costly to employers, given its well-documented links to other health problems, increased medical expenditures, absenteeism, presenteeism and job turnover,” said Adam Long, Ph.D., vice president of research and informatics at Gordian. “Employers, particularly those in sectors showing the higher rates of employee depression, have a huge stake in helping their employees deal with depression and should consider devoting resources to address this issue.”

Long noted that many organizations have had success implementing wellness and personal health coaching programs to screen for depression, which can help keep employees with nonclinical levels of depression from progressing to diseased states via stress management coaching or referral to employee assistance programs. Further, health management initiatives encourage protective factors such as exercise, healthy eating and stress reduction techniques that can promote overall resilience among employees.

Long added, “Employers must also take into account the larger link between job dissatisfaction and depression, stress and anger. Employee wellness and health coaching programs should be designed to focus not only on individual health but also on developing positive work cultures within organizations — environments that promote global health and wellness among their employees.”

A copy of the research summary is available at

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