Research Updates

Injury blues

Hannah Bourne

What factors increase the risk of injured workers developing depression?
Take Home Messages

Injured workers may be more likely to experience depression due to three main factors:

  1. Physical pain;
  2. Stress; and
  3. Avoidance of difficult workplace problems.

Therefore, employers may help to decrease the prevalence of depression by supporting workers to be more proactive in dealing with their injuries.

Why the research matters:

Work-related injuries and disabilities have a significant impact on physical, economic, social, and psychological well-being.
Depression is not uncommon in injured workers and can lead to an impaired recovery and decreased likelihood of returning to work. Therefore, there is a need for more research into the psychological impact of work-related injuries.

What the research involved:

This study sought to identify risk factors for developing depression in injured workers.
Data was collected from 253 injured workers at a private company based on a series of questionnaires. These surveys collected information on employees’ jobs, emotional states, and work values.

Summary of research findings:

The study found the following factors were associated with depression:

  • Pain;
  • Stress;
  • The combination of more severe pain and high stress levels; and
  • Workers who prefer to avoid workplace challenges.
  • Furthermore, the study concluded that injured workers who experience higher levels of pain and stress and who prefer to avoid workplace challenges may be more likely to experience depression.
Original research:

Depression among injured workers receiving vocational rehabilitation: contributions of work values, pain, and stress.

Stice BD, Dik BJ.

J Occup Rehabil. 2009 Dec;19(4):354-63. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Link to PubMed abstract