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Open Access Research article

Do teachers have more health problems? Results from a French cross-sectional survey

Viviane Kovess-Masféty*, Christine Sevilla-Dedieu, Carmen Rios-Seidel, Eléna Nerrière and Christine Chan Chee

Author Affiliations

MGEN Foundation for Public Health, 3 square Max Hymans, 75748 Paris Cedex 15, France

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-101

Published: 21 April 2006

Abstract

Background

Although only a few studies have been published on teachers' health, certain ideas are widely accepted, such as for example, the preconceived notion that teachers suffer from an excessively high rate of mental health problems. The objective of this study is to compare teachers' mental and physical health to that of a control group.

Methods

A cross-sectional postal survey was conducted among a sample of 3,679 teachers and 1,817 non-teachers aged 20 to 60 years old.

Results

No lifetime prevalence of any psychiatric disorder (with the exception of undifferentiated somatoform disorder in men) or mean scores of psychological distress were found to be significantly higher in teachers. However, multiple analyses, adjusted for all confounding variables, revealed a higher risk of lifetime anxiety disorders in male teachers. On the other hand, significant differences were observed for some physical ailments: a higher lifetime prevalence of rhinopharyngitis/laryngitis in both male and female teachers, of conjunctivitis and lower urinary tract infection in male teachers and of bronchitis, eczema/dermatitis and varicose veins in female teachers. No significant difference was found for chronic pain between the two groups.

Conclusion

Teachers do not seem to have poorer mental health. However, their physical condition is characterized by a higher prevalence of health problems related to the ENT tract, and to a lesser extent, depending on the gender, to skin, eyes, legs and lower urinary tract.