Work-family conflict as a predictor of common mental disorders in the 1958 British birth cohort

Tahera Razavi, Charlotte Clark, Stephen A Stansfeld


The impact of work-family conflict on common mental disorders (CMD) has been examined in cross-sectional studies. The current paper examines work-family conflict and its effect on CMD in a large nationally representative longitudinal sample. This study uses data from the 1958 British birth cohort study, a longitudinal, prospective cohort study of men and women born in a single week in 1958. At 45 years 9,297 individuals were followed up and 9,008 individuals were working. In this sample work-family conflict, sociodemographic factors and the number of hours worked were assessed at age 42 years. The Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R) was used to assess CMD, as classified by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), in cohort members at age 45 years. Work-family conflict was prospectively associated with an increased risk of common mental disorders (OR=1.76 95% CI 1.36-2.20) adjusting for gender, marital status, social class and educational qualifications. However there was no significant prospective association between the number of hours worked and the prevalence of CMD in this cohort. These results suggest that work-family conflict is a risk factor for future common mental disorder and that in order to prevent common mental disorder this should be considered in job planning. There is a need for more prospective studies with more detailed measures of work-family conflict to confirm these results.


work; work family conflict; working hours; mental health; cohort studies; depression; longitudinal studies

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