Is Depression in Military Officers associated with Lack of Support from Superiors?

Research Paper Title

Support From Superiors Reduces Depression in Republic of Korea Military Officers.


The prevalence of depression is relatively high in the Korean military. Social support is a protective factor against depression and is classified into four categories: emotional support-having the sense of feeling loved; instrumental support-receiving material assistance; informational support-receiving advice; appraisal support-feeling valued and respected for one’s abilities.

To investigate the effect of support from one’s superior on depression among Republic of Korea (ROK) military officers.


2,047 participants from the 2015 Military Health Survey were included in the study. The Korean version of the Beck Depression Inventory was used to measure depression, and a self-reported questionnaire was used to assess support from one’s superior. A chi-squared test and multiple logistic regression were used to analyse the data.


Of the 2,047 participants, 177 (8.6%) had depression. Military officers who did not receive support from their superior were more likely to have depression than than those who did receive support (OR=2.09, 95% CI 1.30 to 3.36).

Additionally, military personnel who did not receive emotional or appraisal support were more likely to have depression (emotional support: OR=2.37, 95% CI 1.31 to 4.29; appraisal support: OR=1.56, 95% CI 1.48 to 2.75).


The study found that depression in military officers was associated with lack of support from superiors. In particular, emotional support and appraisal support had a statistically significant effect. Therefore, we suggest that the ROK armed forces consider early intervention and management for high-risk groups.

A social support programme and organisational atmosphere are also needed to improve supportive ability and skills of superiors.


Woo, S.Y., Kim, H.J., Kim, B.R., Ahn, H.C., Jang, B.N. & Park, E-C. (2020) Support From Superiors Reduces Depression in Republic of Korea Military Officers. BMJ Military Health. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2019-001343. Online ahead of print.


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