Ann Occup Environ Med.  2018 ;30(1):31. 10.1186/s40557-018-0244-x.

Mental disorders among workers in the healthcare industry: 2014 national health insurance data

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 103 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03080 Republic of Korea.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Uijeongbu St. Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 271 Cheonbo-ro, Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi-do Republic of Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50-1 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 03722 Republic of Korea.
  • 4Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Medicine Korea, 222, Banpo-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul 06591 Republic of Korea.


Numerous studies have shown that healthcare professionals are exposed to psychological distress. However, since most of these studies assessed psychological distress using self-reporting questionnaires, the magnitude of the problem is largely unknown. We evaluated the risks of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and any psychiatric disorders in workers in healthcare industry using Korea National Health Insurance (NHI) claims data from 2014, which are based on actual diagnoses instead of self-evaluation.
We used Korea 2014 NHI claims data and classified employees as workers in the healthcare industry, based on companies in the NHI database that were registered with hospitals, clinics, public healthcare, and other medical services. To estimate the standardized prevalence of the selected mental health disorders, we calculated the prevalence of diseases in each age group and sex using the age distribution of the Korea population. To compare the risk of selected mental disorders among workers in the healthcare industry with those in other industries, we considered age, sex, and income quartile characteristics and conducted propensity scored matching.
In the matching study, workers in healthcare industry had higher odds ratios for mood disorders (1.13, 95% CI: 1.11-1.15), anxiety disorders (1.15, 95% CI: 1.13-1.17), sleep disorders (2.21, 95% CI: 2.18-2.24), and any psychiatric disorders (1.44, 95% CI: 1.43-1.46) than the reference group did. Among workers in healthcare industry, females had higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders than males, but the odds ratios for psychiatric disorders, compared to the reference group, were higher in male workers in healthcare industry than in females.
The prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and all psychiatric disorders for workers in the healthcare industry was higher than that of other Korean workers. The strikingly high prevalence of sleep disorders could be related to the frequent night-shifts in these professions. The high prevalence of mental health problems among workers in healthcare industry is alarming and requires prompt action to protect the health of the "protectors."


Mood disorder; Anxiety disorder; Sleep disorder; Psychiatric disorders; Healthcare industry
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