187154 Relationships between stress, depression, and health behavior factors among U.S. employees

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shalah Watkins, PhD , Department of Health Studies, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX
Anna Love, PhD , Department of Health Studies, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX
Robin C. Rager, PhD , Optimum Health Management, Greenville, NC
Edward Framer, PhD , Health Fitness Corporation, Plano, TX
An increase in the prevalence of stress and depression among employees has been identified as a factor in the rising health costs for U.S. companies. Some research has shown that stressed or depressed employees are also more likely to engage in negative health behaviors such as substance use, compounding the potential for poor health outcomes and reduced productivity. To further explore these health behavior factors, this study analyzed health risk assessment responses of 27,121 workers collected across 23 U.S. companies to examine the relationship between employees' self-reported indicators of stress and depression, and their behaviors related to alcohol use, smoking, exercise, and diet. In addition, their responses regarding personal activities that have been shown in other studies to ameliorate stress and depression social involvement, pursuit of a hobby, relaxation techniques, and time management were also evaluated for their relationship to employees' stress/depression status. The results indicate that stressed employees were more likely to use alcohol, smoke, not exercise, and eat a high-fat diet; they were less likely to be involved in a social group or hobby, or to practice deep relaxation or time management. Similar results were found for employees experiencing depression, except that they were less likely to use alcohol and more likely to pursue deep relaxation. These findings support the need for worksite-based strategies to facilitate and support positive coping mechanisms by employees suffering from stress or depression, which should result in improved health outcomes for the employees and reduced health care and lost-productivity costs for the company.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the impact of employee stress and depression on U.S. companies. 2. Define stress and depression, and factors associated with these mental health conditions. 3. Describe the relationships between employee stress, depression, and certain health behavior factors. 4. Identify worksite-based strategies for addressing and preventing stress and depression in the employee population.

Keywords: Stress, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Rager has been involved in the field of health promotion for nearly 20 years, both as a consultant and as college professor. His consulting and academic activities have focused on individual and population health assessment, and the design and evaluation of effective health promotion and disease management programs in a variety of populations and settings. His research has focused on workforce studies related to the impact of health risk reduction and disease/condition management interventions, including depression and anxiety management programs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.