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