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Poor team spirit could cause depression, says study


Poor team spirit at work could put employees at risk of depression, a study has shown.

Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health asked 3,347 people aged between 30-64 about their working environment.

The study found employees who felt that team spirit was poor in their workplace were over 60% more likely to have depressive symptoms.

Employees who reported poor team spirit were 50% more likely to be taking antidepressants.

Depression and anxiety disorders are common in the workplace and are a major cause of sick leave, say the authors of the study, which will be published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The employees were asked to rate the atmosphere in their workplace on a scale from ‘encouraging and supportive’ to ‘quarrelsome and disagreeable’.

The participants were assessed for symptoms of depression, anxiety and alcohol misuse. Details about their prescriptions for antidepressants were collected over the following three years.

The authors of the study said: ‘A quarrelsome and disagreeing climate or interpersonal conflicts at work may generate feelings of threat or danger and result in an anxiety disorder.’

However, they added: ‘It is possible that employees with mental disorders perceive their team climate to be poorer than their healthy colleagues or they worsen team climate by their own behaviour.’

The researchers have urged for more attention to be paid to psychosocial factors at work.

Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2009)


Readers' comments (2)

  • Phil Dup

    Blimey !!!

    Who would have thought.....what next - research shows that people on low wages tend to have less spending power than those on high wages ! Thank heavens for researchers from the 'school for the blatantly obvious' . Anyone know where I can get a nice job like theirs ?

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  • Ooo! I'd like a coochey job like that too.
    My experience of poor team spirit came to a head when I discovered that nurses are not the angels I had imagined and traumatised by the death of two loved ones I saw them in their true colours. They had absolutely no idea how, or did not wish to show any understanding or offer any support in such circumstances. After using up the very brief compassionate allowance which is minimal and no luxury, and made to feel guilty for my absence, for the only relative to make the funeral arrangements and sort out the estates as well as deeply grieving, and all this a new experience one has to quickly grasp as it is not something one has had practice in!
    Returning to work on a hectic medical ward where one is often alone on day shifts and always on night shifts and with frequent unanounced admissions during the busy ward routine was extremly challenging and after a few cursory expressions of condoleance from a few colleagues I was expected to carry on as normal with all the usual criticisms and very high expectations of others, often to cover up their own shortcomings, especially if one forgot the 10th low priority task whilst multitasking and dealing with patients, phone call, visitors and doctors queries all at the same time. Even in the best circumstance it was easy to run round like a headless chicken sometimes forgetting some of the more minor tasks one had started when called away to something moe urgent. Lack of support from management and any lack of recogniton or appreciation eventually led to depression from (and eventually failing to perceive any positive feedback from patients) which in turn led to a series of job losses (some of which in fact were totally beyond my control) leaving my career and my life in shatters despite filling the career gap with a Masters Degree course in Healthcare Management with successful outcome at great expense and personal cost.
    Give me a couchy coffee drinking job in researching the obvious anytime as I think I would be very good at that and even going a little further!

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