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Objective: This research uses Australian survey data to identify industries with high rates of psychological distress, and to estimate productivity impacts in the form of work loss and cutback days. Methods: Analyzing cross-sectional data from the 2017/2018 National Health Survey, industry prevalence of psychological distress (Kessler Screening Scale) was compared using ordered logistic regression. Productivity outcomes were distress-related work loss days and work cutback days in the previous 4 weeks. Losses were analyzed using zero-inflated negative binomial regression. Results: The sample consisted of 9073 employed workers [4497 males (49.6%), 4576 females (50.4%)]. Compared to the reference industry, Health, the odds of very high distress for males were highest in Information media and telecommunications (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.2–4.6) and Administrative and support services (OR 2.5; 95% CI 1.2–5.0), while for females the odds were highest in Accommodation and food services (OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.5–2.8) followed by Retail (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.2–2.0). Very high distress was associated excess productivity losses. Industry of occupation did not impact on productivity loss over and above distress. Conclusions: Substantial psychological distress was reported which impacted on productivity. High-risk industries included Information media and telecommunications, Accommodation and food services, and Retail.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Occupational Health

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