Industrial Health 2003, 41, 117–119
*To whom correspondence should be addressed.
A Comparison of White-Collar Jobs in Regard to Mental
Health Consultation Rates in a Health Care Center
Operated by a Japanese Company
Shuji SOEDA1, 2)*, Takeshi HAYASHI2), Yoichi SUGAWARA2), Tomoki TAKANO3),
Takeshi TERAO1) and Jun NAKAMURA1)
1Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Occupational and Environmental Health. 1-1,
Iseigaoka, Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyushu, 807-8555, Japan
2Hitachi Health Care Center, Hitachi, Ltd. 4-3-16, Ose-cho, Hitachi-shi, Ibaraki, 317-0076, Japan
3Mito Health Care Center, Hitachi, Ltd. 1070, Ichige, Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki, 312-0033, Japan
Received August 20, 2002 and accepted February 6, 2003
Abstract: The aim of this study was to compare the consultation rates (CR) of workers performing
several types of white-collar jobs. We collected data from the database inputted at the first
consultation to a health care center from April 1996 to March 1999. We found that the CR of
engineer group was 2.3 times higher than that of employees involved in research and development
group. We speculate that this is partially due to the portion, which is not small, of computer systems
engineer (SE) comprising this group; SE has previously been mentioned as a particularly stressful
occupation in Japan. Since the result of this study is preliminary, we need to conduct a further
study taking into account that multiple factors affect CR.
Key words: Computer systems engineer, Mental health, Consultation, Job, Stress
Some investigators have suggested that work-related stress
influences the mental health of those working in certain
occupations in Japan1–4). Some stressful jobs, such as
computer systems engineer (SE), have the potential to harm
the mental health of those that perform them5–7). To our
knowledge, few studies8, 9) have demonstrated a statistical
difference in the prevalence of mental disorders among
specific types of occupations. The current study aims to
obtain preliminary data on these difference in Japanese labor
The present study focuses on a health care center (H center)
operated by a Japanese company. Customarily, such a center
provides mental health counseling to the company’s workers.
H center serves about 40,000 workers. We hypothesize that
there exists a difference in the numbers of workers seeking
consultations at the H center in regard to the type of job
Subjects were white-collar workers who came to H center
to consult a mental health staff member for the first time
from April 1996 to March 1999. We included in the study
group mild cases that were not diagnosed as mental disorders.
The subjects consulted H center voluntarily or based on the
recommendation by their superiors, by doctors of other
hospitals, or by the H center staff.
Using a database consisting of data inputted by a staff
member who conducted the interview at the first consultation,
we divided the subjects into six groups, i.e., engineers, clerical
workers, quality control workers, those working in research
and development, and those working in production control
and others. The group of ‘others’ was composed contained
of service and sales workers, the medical staff of the hospitals
and clinics, bus and taxi drivers, and the teachers employed
at the vocational college operated by this company. In
addition, the group included the few workers that we could
S SOEDA et al.
Industrial Health 2003, 41, 117–119
not classify into the five groups at the first interview.
We calculated the consultation rates (CR) per 1000 persons
per year of the six groups based on the number of
consultations for three years and all workers of the six
categorical job groups under jurisdiction of H center in fiscal
1999. We assumed that the number and composition of the
personnel of each group in fiscal 1999 could be used as the
average during the three years because the number of the
personnel among the groups during this period did not change
significantly. Based on the CR, we calculated the ratio
between the group with the high incidence rate and the group
with the lowest.
There were 382 white-collar workers (318 men and 64
women) who consulted the H center in the three years. In
fiscal 1999, the white-collar workers whom H center served
were 28,274 in all.
Table 1 shows the CR and the number of consultations of
all groups of white-collar workers. A comparison of the
CR among all groups showed that that of engineers, which
had the highest CR, was 2.3 times higher than those working
in research and development, who had the lowest CR.
We found that the CR of the engineer group was 2.3 times
higher than that of the research and development group. This
finding may be indicative of some particular stress
experienced by those seeking counseling at H center. We
speculate that this is partially due to the portion, which is
not small, of SEs comprising this group, SE having previously
been mentioned as a particularly stressful occupation in Japan.
In regard to the research and development group, we consider
that this group experiences less job strain than does the
engineer group because of the advantage of job control.
But we should carefully consider various other
possibilities. Watanabe5) pointed out that computer related
operations might largely include engineers who tended to
avoid human relations at their place of work. He inferred
that they were poor at asking others for help even when
they were experiencing problems that lead to impaired
The present study detected the differences of CR among
several kinds of white-collar workers. But there are some
limitations in using CR as the index of the mental health,
because CR is affected by multifarious factors such as the
amount and effectiveness of the H center’s advertising, the
activities of the industrial health staff, composition of the
group by gender or age. Therefore, we will investigate the
mental state of all types of workers by means of regression
analysis in order to further explore the effect of occupation
on mental health.
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Table 1. Consultation rates (CR)
50 40271882 382
a) The number of consultations from April 1996 to March 1999. b) The number of all workers. c) per 1000
persons per year.
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A COMPARISON OF JOBS IN REGARD TO CONSULTATION RATE
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