Job Strain, Depressive Symptoms, and Drinking Behavior Among Older Adults: Results From the Health and Retirement Study

Objective. To examine the relationship between job strain and two indicators of mental health, depression and alcohol misuse, among currently employed older adults. Method. Data come from the 2004 and 2006 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (N = 2,902). Multivariable logistic regression modeling was used to determine the association between job strain, indicated by the imbalance of job stress and job satisfaction, with depression and alcohol misuse. Results. High job strain (indicated by high job stress combined with low job satisfaction) was associated with elevated depressive symptoms (odds ratio [OR] = 2.98, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.99-4.45) relative to low job strain after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, labor force status, and occupation. High job stress combined with high job satisfaction (OR = 1.93) and low job stress combined with low job satisfaction (OR = 1.94) were also associated with depressive symptoms to a lesser degree. Job strain was unrelated to either moderate or heavy drinking. These associations did not vary by gender or age. Discussion. Job strain is associated with elevated depressive symptoms among older workers. In contrast to results from investigations of younger workers, job strain was unrelated to alcohol misuse. These findings can inform the development and implementation of workplace health promotion programs that reflect the mental health needs of the aging workforce.