August 26, 2021

NIOSH: Workers with Diabetes May Be at Increased Risk for Depression

Workers with diabetes, especially young adults and women, may be at increased risk for depression, a NIOSH study has found. The study, which was published online this week in the journal Diabetes Spectrum, found that the overall prevalence of self-reported depression among workers with diabetes was 17.4 to 30 percent higher than among those without diabetes. Young adult workers with diabetes aged 18 to 34 years had the highest prevalence of depression—28.7 percent—compared with other age groups. For example, among those with diabetes who were 65 or older, approximately 11 percent of workers reported experiencing depression. In addition, female workers with diabetes of all ages were “significantly more likely” to self-report depression than male workers, researchers found.

The study used data from the 2014–2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a system of telephone surveys that collect state data about U.S. residents regarding health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. NIOSH’s analysis included responses from more than 84,000 people.

“A strength of this study is the large population-based sample that allowed us to explore the relationship between diabetes and depression among workers by age group and other characteristics, including demographics and physical health conditions,” said Harpriya Kaur, PhD, a NIOSH epidemiologist and author of the study. “Having a better understanding of which groups may be at greatest risk can help inform preventive measures such as tailored educational messages and health promotion resources in the workplace.”

NIOSH researchers conclude that employee wellness programs may help address the needs of workers with diabetes and depression.

More information about the study is available in a NIOSH update published on Aug. 25.