Relationship of health risk behaviors to stress and depression in U.S. workers

Date

2007-05-30

Authors

Watkins, Shalah

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Abstract

Organizations have found that mental health conditions, more specifically stress and depression to be major contributing factors for the increase in employer health care costs. Stressed and depressed employees have been identified as having the highest correlation with higher heath care costs than any other health condition. Further examination of findings like these have revealed that stressed and depressed employees are engaging in more health risk behaviors as coping techniques than their less stressed and depressed counterparts.

These health risk behaviors may compound the negative health outcomes already associated with stress and depression. Therefore, an examination of how certain positive and negative health risk behaviors are related to stress and depression among employees may provide useful information, which in turn may aid in the design of effective worksite-based stress and depression prevention and/or treatment program, and ultimately, a reduction in employee health care costs. The purpose of this study was to examine the predictive value of selected health risk behaviors regarding exercise, eating, smoking, alcohol, social support, relaxation activities, and hobbies on employee identified stress and depression. A secondary purpose was to examine the predictive value of stress and depression on self-reported overall health status. Males and females will also be compared on selected health risk behaviors regarding exercise, eating, smoking, alcohol, social support, relaxation activities, and hobbies and self-reported stress and depression.

Findings for this study have suggested that certain health risk behaviors are predictors for stress and depression, as well as overall health. The overarching implication from these results is that stress and depression are central health issues affecting every aspect of employee health. Future researchers may want to examine the association between some of these health risk behaviors to stress and depression independently with a smaller sample to garner more detailed observations of these relationships.

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Keywords

Health and environmental science, Depression, Employee health, Health risk behaviors, Stress

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