Open Access Research article

Paternal psychosocial work conditions and mental health outcomes: A case-control study

Stefania Maggi1*, Aleck Ostry2, James Tansey3, James Dunn4, Ruth Hershler3, Lisa Chen3 and Clyde Hertzman3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology and Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University, Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Canada

2 Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Finnerty Road, Victoria, Canada

3 Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Fairview Avenue, Vancouver, Canada

4 Department of Geography, University of Toronto, St. George Street, Toronto, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:104  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-104

Published: 31 March 2008



The role of social and family environments in the development of mental health problems among children and youth has been widely investigated. However, the degree to which parental working conditions may impact on developmental psychopathology has not been thoroughly studied.


We conducted a case-control study of several mental health outcomes of 19,833 children of sawmill workers and their association with parental work stress, parental socio-demographic characteristics, and paternal mental health.


Multivariate analysis conducted with four distinct age groups (children, adolescents, young adults, and adults) revealed that anxiety based and depressive disorders were associated with paternal work stress in all age groups and that work stress was more strongly associated with alcohol and drug related disorders in adulthood than it was in adolescence and young adulthood.


This study provides support to the tenet that being exposed to paternal work stress during childhood can have long lasting effects on the mental health of individuals.