Moderating effects of executive function between depression severity and work performance: a web-based cross-sectional study

Tamara Alejandra Sierra-Aparicio, Brenda Paulina Magaña-Quijano, Jacquelyn Vargas-Quiñones, Brenda Martínez-García, Aldebarán Toledo-Fernández



Introduction. Depression and dysexecutive functioning share several neurocognitive features, and both often impair areas of everyday life functioning, such as work. The effect of their interaction on this outcome, however, is barely known.

Objective. Was to analyze the moderating effect of executive functioning (EF) on the relation between depression severity and work performance (presenteeism and absenteeism).

Method. Data was collected through a non-probabilistic web-based survey. Hierarchical linear regression analyzes were used for testing the main hypothesis, with depression severity (PHQ-9) and EFs (BRIEF-A) as predictors, and presenteeism (SPS-6) and absenteeism (HPQ) as independent outcome variables.

Results. There were 462 participants analyzed. The regression models showed no significant interaction, only additive effects of depression severity and EF on presenteeism, and no effect of these variables on absenteeism.

Discussion and conclusion. Our main finding disagrees with the moderating effects of EF reported for other psychological variables. We hypothesize that EF alterations may have particular features for depression (e.g., cognitive inflexibility in thought rumination), which are not assessed by the BRIEF-A. Future studies should consider using EF performance tasks to test moderation and using naturalistic indicators of work performance.


Depression; executive functions; work performance; presenteeism; absenteeism

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