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Open Access Research article

The mediating role of self-efficacy in the relationship between Big five personality and depressive symptoms among Chinese unemployed population: a cross-sectional study

Yang Wang, Lutian Yao, Li Liu, Xiaoshi Yang, Hui Wu, Jiana Wang and Lie Wang*

Author Affiliations

Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, China Medical University, No. 92 Beier Road, Heping District, Shenyang, Liaoning 110001, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Psychiatry 2014, 14:61  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-61

Published: 3 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Besides the rapid growth of economy, unemployment becomes a severe socio-economic problem in China. The huge population base in China makes the unemployed population a tremendously huge number. However, health status of unemployed population was ignored and few studies were conducted to describe the depressive symptoms of unemployed individuals in China. This study aims to examine the relationship between Big five personality and depressive symptoms and the mediating role of self-efficacy in this relationship.

Methods

This cross-sectional study was performed during the period of July to September 2011. Questionnaires consisting of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Big Five Inventory (BFI) and the General Self-efficacy Scale (GSE), as well as demographic factors, were used to collect information of unemployed population. A total of 1,832 individuals (effective response rate: 73.28%) became our subjects. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were performed to explore the mediating role of self-efficacy.

Results

The prevalence of depressive symptoms was 67.7% among Chinese unemployed individuals. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness were all negatively associated with depressive symptoms whereas neuroticism was positively associated with depressive symptoms. The proportion of mediating effect of self-efficacy in the relationship between extraversion/agreeableness/conscientiousness/neuroticism and depressive symptoms was 25.42%, 10.91%, 32.21% and 36.44%, respectively. Self-efficacy is a mediator in the relationship between extraversion/agreeableness/conscientiousness/neuroticism and depressive symptoms.

Conclusion

Self-efficacy partially mediated the relationship between Big five personality and depressive symptoms among Chinese unemployed individuals. Interventions that focus on both individuals’ personality and self-efficacy may be most successful to reduce depressive symptoms of unemployed individuals.

Keywords:
Depressive symptoms; Big five personality; Self-efficacy; Unemployed