Influence of psychological and social work factors on mental health
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- Institutt for psykologi 
The overall aim of this thesis was broadening the scope of specific psychological and social work factors investigated as possible predictors of employees` mental health, focusing on mental distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression). Design was prospective full-panel (i.e. measurement of all variables at each time-point) with a two-year follow-up period. Data was gathered by questionnaire. Organizations represented a wide variety of occupations and job types. Study I included 20 organizations with 1971 respondents in the prospective sample. Study II included 48 organizations with a prospective sample of 3644 employees. Study III incorporated 63 organizations and had a prospective sample of 4158 employees. Different statistical designs were employed in all three studies. This was done as the optimal exposure-outcome measurement interval is unknown and to elucidate which factors were the most consistent predictors across analyses. Study I demonstrated both “normal” (i.e. work as predictor of health) and “reversed” (i.e. health as predictor of work) relations between workplace bullying and mental distress. In study II, 14 of 19 work factors showed some prospective relation to incidence of mental distress “caseness”, while role conflict, support from immediate superior, fair leadership, and positive challenge were consistent predictors. Prevalence of “cases” was 11.9 % (n = 432) at baseline. Study III demonstrated that eight of 10 work factors; decision control, role conflict, positive challenge, support from immediate superior, fair leadership, commitment to organization, human resource primacy, and social climate, were consistently related to mental distress and positive affect. Rumors of change was a consistent predictor of mental distress only. Impact of exposures was most pervasive and consistent at the individual level, however, department level relations were also demonstrated for all work factors. In conclusion, a broad set of psychological and social work factors predicted mental health. Role conflict, support from immediate superior, fair leadership, and positive challenge were seemingly particularly important as these were consistent predictors of mental distress “caseness”. Many of the work factors associated with mental health were others than those traditionally studied. Knowledge obtained through the present work should be highly useful for organizations in developing practical efforts targeting employees` health.