Ann Occup Environ Med.  2019 ;31(1):e16. 10.35371/aoem.2019.31.e16.

The association between quality of direct supervisor's behavior and depressive mood in Korean wage workers: the 4th Korean Working Conditions Survey

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Institute of Environmental Medicine, Seoul National University Medical Research Center, Seoul, Korea.


Workers spend most of their social lives at work and have relationships of varying nature with people in the workplace. Direct supervisors, in particular, have a direct and lasting impact on workers, which may influence workers' mental health. Depression is very prevalent worldwide, and social concern about the disease is on the rise. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of direct supervisors' behavior on the depressive mood of Korean wage workers.
We used data from the 4th Korean Working Conditions Survey held in 2014; 22,212 participants were included in the analysis. The quality of a direct supervisor's behavior was categorized from 0 (= lowest) to 5 (= highest) points. The degree of depressive mood was measured on a scale from "normal mood" to "likely depression" based on the 5-item World Health Organization Well-Being Index (WHO-5) questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression was used to analyze the association between the quality of the direct supervisor's behavior and the depressive mood of wage workers.
After multivariable adjustment, significantly increased odds ratio (OR) for likely depression was found in the 4, 3, 2, 1, and 0 points of the quality of the direct supervisor's behavior compared to 5 points. After stratification for the level of satisfaction with working conditions, the OR of the unsatisfied groups was higher than that of the satisfied groups.
Likely depression was found to be significantly associated with a low quality of direct supervisor's behavior. This association was stronger in workers who were not satisfied with their working conditions. This study suggests that proper management of the direct supervisor's behavior is needed to reduce the risk of depression among Korean wage workers.


Direct supervisor; Direct supervisor's behavior; Depressive mood; Depression; Working conditions
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