Recent studies based on self-reported data suggest that retirement may have beneficial effects on mental health, but studies using objective endpoints remain scarce. This study examines longitudinally the changes in antidepressant medication use across the 9 years spanning the transition to retirement.
Participants were Finnish public-sector employees: 7138 retired at statutory retirement age (76% women; mean age, 61.2 years), 1238 retired early due to mental health issues (78% women; mean age, 52.0 years), and 2643 retired due to physical health issues (72% women; mean age, 55.4 years). Information on purchase of antidepressant medication 4 years before and 4 years after retirement year was based on comprehensive national pharmacy records in 1994-2005.
One year before retirement, the use of antidepressants was 4% among those who would retire at statutory age, 61% among those who would retire due to mental health issues, and 14% among those who would retire due to physical health issues. Retirement-related changes in antidepressant use depended on the reason for retirement. Among old-age retirees, antidepressant medication use decreased during the transition period (age- and calendar-year-adjusted prevalence ratio for antidepressant use 1 year after versus 1 year before retirement = 0.77 [95% confidence interval = 0.68 to 0.88]). Among those whose main reason for disability pension was mental health issues or physical health issues, there was an increasing trend in antidepressant use prior to retirement and, for mental health retirements, a decrease after retirement.
Trajectories of recorded purchases of antidepressant medication are consistent with the hypothesis that retirement is beneficial for mental health.
Studies have reported higher levels of absenteeism due to illness among special education teachers compared to other teachers, but it is not known which factors might contribute to this difference. We examined whether health, health behaviors, and exposure to violence at work differed between special education and general education teachers in Finnish basic education.
Survey data from 5760 general and special education teachers were analyzed with multilevel logistic models adjusted for individual- and school-level confounding factors.
No difference was found between the health behaviors of general and special education teachers. The differences in physical and mental health between the two groups were also relatively small. With regard to work-related violence, however, male special education teachers were 3 times more likely to be exposed to mental abuse, and 5 times more likely to be exposed to physical violence when compared to their male colleagues in general education. Although female special educators were also at an increased risk of mental abuse and physical violence compared to their female general teacher colleagues, their odds ratios for such an encounter were smaller (2- and 3-fold, respectively) than those of male special education teachers. The school-level variance of physical violence toward teachers was large, which indicates that while most schools have little physical violence toward teachers, schools do exist in which teachers' exposure to violence is common.
These findings suggest that special education teachers may benefit from training for handling violent situations and interventions to prevent violence at schools.
Patient overcrowding and violent assaults by patients are two major problems in psychiatric healthcare. However, evidence of an association between overcrowding and aggressive behaviour among patients is mixed and limited to small-scale studies.
This study examined the association between ward overcrowding and violent physical assaults in acute-care psychiatric in-patient hospital wards.
Longitudinal study using ward-level monthly records of bed occupancy and staff reports of the timing of violent acts during a 5-month period in 90 in-patient wards in 13 acute psychiatric hospitals in Finland. In total 1098 employees (physicians, ward head nurses, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses) participated in the study. The outcome measure was staff reports of the timing of physical assaults on both themselves and ward property.
We found that 46% of hospital staff were working in overcrowded wards, as indicated by >10 percentage units of excess bed occupancy, whereas only 30% of hospital personnel were working in a ward with no excess occupancy. An excess bed occupancy rate of >10 percentage units at the time of an event was associated with violent assaults towards employees (odds ratio (OR) = 1.72, 95% CI 1.05-2.80; OR = 3.04, 95% CI 1.51-6.13 in adult wards) after adjustment for confounding factors. No association was found with assaults on ward property (OR = 1.06, 95% CI 0.75-1.50).
These findings suggest that patient overcrowding is highly prevalent in psychiatric hospitals and, importantly, may increase the risk of violence directed at staff.
In a prospective cohort study of Finnish public sector employees, the authors examined the association between workplace social capital and depression. Data were obtained from 33,577 employees, who had no recent history of antidepressant treatment and who reported no history of physician-diagnosed depression at baseline in 2000-2002. Their risk of depression was measured with two indicators: recorded purchases of antidepressants until December 31, 2005, and self-reports of new-onset depression diagnosed by a physician in the follow-up survey in 2004-2005. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was used to explore whether self-reported and aggregate-level workplace social capital predicted indicators of depression at follow-up. The odds for antidepressant treatment and physician-diagnosed depression were 20-50% higher for employees with low self-reported social capital than for those reporting high social capital. These associations were not accounted for by sex, age, marital status, socioeconomic position, place of work, smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, and body mass index. The association between social capital and self-reported depression attenuated but remained significant after further adjustment for baseline psychological distress (a proxy for undiagnosed mental health problems). Aggregate-level social capital was not associated with subsequent depression.
Comment In: Am J Epidemiol. 2008 May 15;167(10):1152-418413360
Although health is an important determinant of sickness absence, social relationships at the workplace may also affect levels of sick leaves. This study examined whether students' self-assessed satisfaction with school predicted sickness absence among teachers in Finnish secondary schools.
We measured school satisfaction of 17?033 students aged 14-16 years from 90 schools by a survey (the School Health Promotion Study) and aggregated school-specific scores of students' school satisfaction. For analysis, we linked these school-level data to records of sickness absence in the survey year and the following year among 2364 teachers working in the same schools (the 10-Town Study). For sickness absence longer than 9 days, we obtained diagnoses from national health registers.
Multilevel Poisson and logistic regression models adjusted for relevant baseline covariates showed a rate ratio of 1.2 [95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.0-1.5] for long-term (>3 days) sickness absence among teachers working in schools with two lowest thirds of student satisfaction compared with teachers in schools with high student satisfaction. The corresponding odds ratio (OR) was higher for sickness absence with a psychiatric diagnosis (OR 1.9, 95% CI: 1.1-3.2), more specifically, neurotic and stress-related disorders (OR 2.6, 95% CI: 1.2-5.9). Students' school satisfaction was not associated with teachers' short-term (1-3 days) sick leaves.
These data suggest a link between social relationships at school, as indexed by students' school satisfaction, and teachers' sick leaves, with the strongest associations seen for absences with mental health diagnoses.