Psychosocial work factors affecting mental health of young workers: a systematic review: a systematic review

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Objective: For the general working population, robust evidence exists for associations between psychosocial work exposures and mental health. As this relationship is less clear for young workers, this systematic review aims at providing an overview of the evidence concerning psychosocial work factors affecting mental health of young workers.

Methods: The electronic databases used were PubMed, Web of Science, and PsycINFO and were last searched in October 2021. The eligible outcomes included depression-, stress-, burnout- and anxiety-related complaints, and fatigue, excluding clinical diagnoses and suicide-related outcomes. Only studies with workers aged 35 years or younger were included, which reported at least one association between a psychosocial work factor as exposure and a mental health complaint as outcome. Studies had to be in English, German or Dutch. Risk of bias was assessed using an instrument from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Data synthesis was conducted using GRADE.

Results: In total 17 studies were included in this systematic review, including data from 35,600 young workers in total. Across these studies 86 exposure-outcome associations were reported. Nine exposure-outcome associations could be synthesised. The application of the GRADE framework led to one "low" assessment for the association between psychosocial job quality and mental health. The certainty of evidence for the other eight associations in the synthesis was very low.

Conclusions: The current systematic review disclosed a high degree of uncertainty of the evidence due to conceptually fuzzy outcomes and exposures as well as large heterogeneity between studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-75
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number1
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Mental health
  • Psychosocial work factors
  • Systematic review
  • Young workers

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