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BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 253.
Published online 2012 April 1. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-253
PMCID: PMC3369557

Association between psychological distress and a sense of contribution to society in the workplace

Abstract

Background

Globally, mental health promotion related to psychological distress in the workplace has become a great concern, and a focus of much research attention. However, a sense of contribution to society and sense of bonding with the workplace have not been examined in relation to psychological distress. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine whether these two factors are associated with psychological distress.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1137 full-time employees who worked in systems engineering, sales, or administration at a Japanese company. Participant's sense of contribution to society, sense of bonding with the workplace, psychological distress, and qualitative job stress (quantitative and qualitative workloads, job-control latitude, and support from supervisors, co-workers and family) were assessed with a questionnaire. We performed multiple logistic regression analyses to examine associations between psychological distress and sense of contribution to society and of bonding with the workplace.

Results

A high sense of contribution to society was significantly associated with a high sense of bonding with the workplace (Spearman's ρ = 0.47, p < 0.01). A sense of contribution to society was negatively associated with psychological distress after adjusting for job stress factors (OR = 2.05, 95% CI 0.99-4.23) or sociodemographic characteristics of participants (OR = 2.92, 1.53-5.59). After adjusting for job stress factors as well as sociodemographic characteristics, the association became weaker. A sense of bonding with the workplace was negatively associated with psychological distress after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics (OR = 2.49, 1.29-4.79). However, this association was not observed after adjusting for job stress factors.

Conclusions

Psychological distress in the workplace was associated with sense of contribution to society. Therefore, workplace mental health promotion should consider the workers' sense of contribution to society.

Keywords: mental health, job stress, psychological distress, contribution to society, bonding with workplace, meaning of work

Articles from BMC Public Health are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central