The associations between childhood trauma and work functioning in adult workers with and without depressive and anxiety disorders

Maud De Venter, Bernet M. Elzinga, Filip Van Den Eede, Kristien Wouters, Guido F. Van Hal, Dick J. Veltman, Bernard G.C. Sabbe, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: To examine the association between childhood trauma and work functioning, and to elucidate to what extent this association can be accounted for by depression and/or anxiety. METHODS: Data of 1,649 working participants were derived from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA, n = 2,981). Childhood trauma (emotional neglect, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse before age 16) was assessed with a structured interview and work functioning, in terms of absenteeism and presenteeism, with the Health and Labor Questionnaire Short Form (SF-HLQ) and the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule II (WHODAS-II), respectively. Depressive and/or anxiety disorders were assessed with the Composite Interview Diagnostic Instrument (CIDI). Mediation analyses were conducted. RESULTS: At baseline, 44.8% reported to have experienced childhood trauma. Workers with the highest childhood trauma level showed significantly (p < 0.001) more absenteeism as well as more presenteeism. Mediation analyses revealed that indirect effects between the childhood trauma index and both work indices were significantly mediated by current depressive disorder (p = 0.023 and p < 0.001, respectively) and current comorbid depression-anxiety (p = 0.020 and p < 0.001, respectively), with the latter accounting for the largest effects (PM = 0.23 and PM = 0.29, respectively). No significant mediating role in this relationship was found for current anxiety disorder and remitted depressive and/or anxiety disorder. CONCLUSIONS: Persons with childhood trauma have significantly reduced work functioning in terms of absenteeism and presenteeism. This seems to be largely accounted for by current depressive disorders and current comorbid depression-anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e76
JournalEuropean psychiatry : the journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2020


  • Absenteeism
  • anxiety
  • childhood trauma
  • depression
  • presenteeism

Cite this