OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to conduct a gender-based analysis of associations between certain psychosocial work demands and certain mental health problems in Québec. METHODS: The study comprised 2,877 workers, with a response rate of 78%. Data collection was conducted by means of computer-assisted interviews, mainly in person. The mental health problems retained in the model were: psychological distress, a major episode of depression, and a positive score on the global depression index. The psychosocial work demands measured were: level of decision latitude, of psychological job demands and of social support. A set of job and personal characteristics were also measured. FINDINGS: In all, 41% of Québec workers have a low level of decision authority and 46% experience low skill discretion at work. Moreover, 45% reported having little social support and 40% high psychological job demands. The findings show that 25% of the population studied had experienced a level of psychological distress during the month preceding the survey, and during the previous 12 months, 4% had had a major episode of depression and 6.4% a score on the global depression index indicating depression. These indicators seemed more marked among women compared to men. The findings of the multivariate analysis showed that among women, low skill discretion surprisingly appeared to be a protective factor against a major episode of depression. CONCLUSION: The reasons for these differences between the sexes are discussed and seem related to such factors as more unfavourable working conditions for women, as well as double workloads (home and work), and a relationship to work that differs from that of men.
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