Background: Adverse job characteristics have been linked with increased incidence of depression and anxiety in working populations. However, the association between job characteristics and mental health, in an older working population while controlling for personality traits, is less well known.
Aims: To examine the association between job characteristics (job demands and job control) and mental health (depression and anxiety) for older workers while controlling for personality traits. Methods: A sample of workers aged 50-69 years were recruited from a primary health care clinic in Southern Ireland. Job characteristics were measured using the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire; demands (quantitative and cognitive) and control (influence at work and possibilities for development). Personality traits were measured using the Ten-Item Personality Inventory, depression was measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale and anxiety was measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Descriptive analysis, simple and multiple linear regression analyses were conducted. Results: The final sample size was 1025 with an initial 67% response rate. Multiple linear regression analysis showed job characteristics (in particular, job demands) to be significant positive predictors of symptoms of depression and anxiety. The inverse was true for job control variables and symptoms of depression. Neither possibilities for development nor influence at work were associated with symptoms of anxiety. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that despite potential confounders, higher demands at work can impact the worker's mental health negatively. Reducing job demands and encouraging role development may benefit the mental health of older workers.