(HealthDay News) – Experiencing or observing workplace bullying increases the risk of subsequent psychotropic medication use, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in BMJ Open.

Tea Lallukka, PhD, from the University of Helsinki, and colleagues questioned 6,606 employees of the City of Helsinki (80% women) who were aged 40–60 years at baseline (2000–2002) regarding workplace bullying. Survey data were linked to the Finnish Social Insurance Institution’s register data on purchases of prescribed reimbursed psychotropic medication (three years prior to and five years after the baseline survey).

The researchers found that, after adjustment for age and prior medication, workplace bullying was significantly associated with subsequent psychotropic medication use for both women (hazard ratio [HR], 1.51) and men (HR, 2.15). Similar results were seen for women (HR, 1.53) and men (HR, 1.92) who observed bullying. Full adjustment for covariates, including childhood bullying, occupational class, and body mass index, modestly attenuated the associations.

“Workplace bullying needs to be tackled proactively in an effective way to prevent its adverse consequences for mental health,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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