• Vol. 44 No. 4
  • 15 April 2015

Prevalence of Chronic Mental and Physical Disorders, Impact on Work Productivity and Correlates of Alcohol Use Disorders and Nicotine Dependence across Occupations



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Introduction: : This study assessed occupational differences in the prevalence of mental and physical disorders in an employed general population sample in Singapore and investigated the impact of these disorders on work productivity losses in terms of work-loss days and work-cutback days. The association of occupation with alcohol use disorders (AUD) and nicotine dependence (ND) was also investigated.

Materials and Methods: Data from a population-based mental health survey of a representative sample of multi-ethnic residents aged 18 years and above were used. The World Health Organization's (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was administered to establish the lifetime diagnosis of key mental disorders. Self-report on sociodemographic characteristics, productivity loss, ND, and lifetime physical conditions were obtained. Nine occupational groups were included in this analysis.

Results: : The sample comprised 4361 participants with a mean (SD) age of 42.2 (11.9) years, ranging between 19 to 80 years. ‘Associate professionals and technicians’ (26.2%), ‘Services and sales workers’ (17.7%) and ‘Professionals’ (15.4%) were the 3 predominant occupational categories. Sociodemographic characteristics differed significantly across occupations (P <0.001). The lifetime prevalences of having ‘any mental disorder’ and ‘any physical disorder’ were 13.0% and 37.9%, respectively; major depressive disorder was the most prevalent mental disorder (5.9%) and hypertension was the most common physical disorder (15.6%). There were no significant differences in work productivity loss across occupations. Sociodemographic and occupational correlates for AUD and ND were identified.

Conclusion: Sociodemographic and health disparities exist in the major occupational categories in Singapore. The strength of the associations between occupation and AUD and ND are significant, indicating the need for preventative measures in select occupations.

Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia with a multi-ethnic population comprising 74.2% Chinese, 13.4% Malays, 9.2% Indians, and the rest belonging to ‘Other’ ethnic groups. In 2011, 78% of the resident population aged 25 to 64 years was employed and there were over 2 million residents in the workforce with 90% in full-time employment. Of these, 47.8% were in professional, managerial, executive and technical (PMET) occupations and 52.2% held non-PMET jobs. While working conditions and workplace health and safety are regularly monitored to achieve sustainable improvement in the health of workers in Singapore, limited information on the effect of occupation on mental and physical health of workers has been documented.

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