2019 Volume 249 Issue 1 Pages 57-64
Non-regular employment is increasing and its mental health impact is a globally important problem. In Japan, non-regularly employed researchers are increasing, especially within young age groups, because employment quotas were not sufficiently expanded against rapid increasing number of doctorate holders. It is therefore important to understand the relationship between non-regular employment and mental health. The significance of our research is to contribute to the improvement of researchers’ mental health by clarifying the influence of employment status on psychological distress. We conducted a cross-sectional, web-based survey in 2017 via an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire distributed to workers in Tsukuba Science City, Japan. The survey questionnaire items included employment status, psychological distress, occupational stress, sex, age, and income. We analyzed 2,762 valid responses in two categories (1,850 regular employment, 912 non-regular employment) and two subcategories based on age according to the definition of “young researcher” by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (20-39 years vs. 40-59 years). Psychological distress was defined as a total K6 score of 5 or greater. Binomial logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for psychological distress. Non-regular employment was significantly associated with psychological distress in the age 20-39 group but not in the age 40-59 group. At the age 20-39 group, a negative association was shown between psychological distress and reward from work (i.e., pride in their job, ability utilization, and sense of accomplishment). Support to increase psychological work rewards may be important in reducing psychological distress for young non-regularly employed researchers.