Secretaries, depression and absenteeism

Roberta Garrison, William W. Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study examines the prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder; missed work; and mental health services use among secretaries and other women employed full-time. In a random sample of 3, 484 women employed full-time, women employed as secretaries were significantly more likely to be depressed than other women even after controlling for socio-demographic characteristics (odds ratio = 1.69, 95% confidence interval = 1.05, 2.73). Secretaries were significantly more likely to report missing work in the last three months (odds ratio = 1.77, confidence interval = 1.01, 3.11); a finding not attributable to depression. Secretaries were also more likely to seek mental health services, but this finding was not significant (odds ratio = 1.78, confidence interval = 0.55, 5.78). It is possible that these findings are attributable to a selection effect whereby depressed women, and women who are likely to miss work, become secretaries. A second possibility is that women employed as secretaries have more “nonwork role stress” than other employed women. Alternatively, job conditions which result in dissatisfaction and stress may lead to depression and absenteeism. We believe our findings warrant further investigation into the work environment of secretaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-76
Number of pages24
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 20 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Secretaries, depression and absenteeism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this