Psychological Medicine

Research Article

A longitudinal study of social support and depression in unemployed men

Winifred Boltona1 c1 and Keith Oatleya1

a1 Department of Psychology, Goodmayes Hospital, Ilford, Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow


Interviews were conducted with 49 men just after they had become unemployed, and with a matched sample of 49 employed men. Follow-up interviews took place 6–8 months later. At follow-up 20 originally unemployed men were still without work, and were significantly more depressed than the employed. Five of these 20, but no employed men, had become clinically depressed. In a multiple regression analysis there was a significant employment × social support interaction which indicated that depression scores at follow-up were higher in those who remained unemployed and who had little social contact with others in the month before losing their jobs. Depression becomes likely when people lose a source of social interaction that is important to their sense of worth, and have no alternative means of experiencing this worth in other relationships.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Winifred Bolton, Psychology Department, Goodmayes Hospital, Ilford, Essex.