The Epidemic of Mental Disorders in Business—How Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Spread across Organizations through Employee Mobility*.

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    • Abstract:
      Combining management research with infectious disease epidemiology, we propose a new perspective on mental disorders in a business context. We suggest that—similar to infectious diseases—clinical diagnoses of depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders can spread epidemically across the boundaries of organizations via social contagion. We propose a framework for assessing the patterns of disease transmission, with employee mobility as the driver of contagion across organizations. We empirically test the proposed mental disorder transmission patterns by observing more than 250,000 employees and more than 17,000 Danish firms over a period of 12 years. Our findings reveal that when organizations hire employees from other, unhealthy organizations (those with a high prevalence of mental disorders), they "implant" depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders into their workforces. Employees leaving unhealthy organizations act as "carriers" of these disorders regardless of whether they themselves have received a formal diagnosis of a mental disorder. The effect is especially pronounced if the newcomer holds a managerial position. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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