The community initiative on depression: Report from a multiphase work site depression intervention

Authors: Chiang, H., Cheung, Y. K., Huacheng Li, H., & Tsai, L. Y.
Year Published 2005
Publication Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Volume 47
Number 1
Pages 60-67
Publisher 2005 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine/ Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins

Depression is a prevalent illness with risk for many deleterious outcomes if under-recognized or under-treated. Depression is a leading cause of work-related disability worldwide. Most people with depression are employed (an estimated 68%). Recognizing and initiating depression care in the workplace will facilitate depression treatment in clinical settings.


To further understand depression, a common, disabling condition with considerable ramifications for the workplace, including higher costs, absenteeism, and reduced work performance.


A multidisciplinary health care coalition recently implemented a multiphase workplace depression initiative in Kansas City. Results are reported from its first phase, a 22-item, self-administered survey of depression knowledge and attitudes among employees of 13 large, local work sites.


All eligible employees from 13 of the 15 Community Initiative on Depression (CID)-partnered area companies were sampled for survey administration (38,945 subjects). Subjects were mailed instructions for web-based access to the survey, along with paper copies of the survey for those companies offering that option. Subjects were informed that the overall objective of the survey was to further an understanding of workplace depression. Six of the participating work sites were health care industries, two were governmental, three were banking and legal, and two were manufacturing industries. Subject eligibility criteria were older than 18 years of age and had current employment status at 1 of the 13 companies.

Data Collection

Researchers performed descriptive univariate analyses for all variables. Researchers were concerned that depression knowledge and attitudes might vary among the work sites, especially among the healthcare industries compared with the non-health care industries. Therefore, researchers examined response differences among company sites. Nevertheless, companies generally were similar in structure, urban location, employee socio-demographics (per general employer-published reports), health care availability, and health care insurance programs. Additionally, most companies were lacking in prior depression awareness-raising programs.

Researchers were also concerned that respondents with a history of depression might have different knowledge, attitudes, and help-seeking behavior than those without a history of depression. Therefore, we examined response differences between those with and without a self-reported depression history.


There was no control or comparison condition.


There were 6,399/38,945 respondents (16% response rate). Most respondents (>90%) appropriately recognized the signs and symptoms of depression. A minority (29%) would feel comfortable discussing depression with their supervisor. Sixty-two percent knew how to access company resources for depression care.


Employees were knowledgeable about depression but were less aware of employee-assistance programs for depression care. These findings support increased attempts to raise the awareness of depression and promote of help-seeking behavior in the workplace.

Disabilities Emotional disturbance
Populations Male & Female
Outcomes Other
Research Design Mixed methods
Peer Reviewed Yes