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December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,398 MASLACH SCHAUFELI LEITER. INDIVIDUAL FACTORS Who Experiences Burnout 409,Demographic Characteristics 409. Personality Characteristics 410,Job Attitudes 411,EXPANDING THE RESEARCH International Studies 411. EXPANDING THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK The Person,Within Context 413. Workload 414,Control 414,Reward 414,Community 415,Fairness 415.
Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. Values 415, Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. Interaction of the Six Areas 415,EXPANDING THE CONSTRUCT Job Engagement 416. IMPLICATIONS FOR INTERVENTION How Do We Deal With Burnout 418. Changing the Individual 418,Changing the Organization 419. CONCLUSION 420,INTRODUCTION, The relationship that people have with their work and the difficulties that can. arise when that relationship goes awry have been long recognized as a significant. phenomenon of the modern age The use of the term burnout for this phenomenon. began to appear with some regularity in the 1970s in the United States especially. among people working in the human services This popular usage was presaged. by Greene s 1961 novel A Burn Out Case in which a spiritually tormented. and disillusioned architect quits his job and withdraws into the African jungle. Even earlier writing both fictional and nonfictional described similar phenomena. including extreme fatigue and the loss of idealism and passion for one s job What. is noteworthy is that the importance of burnout as a social problem was identified. by both practitioners and social commentators long before it became a focus of. systematic study by researchers, The evocative power of the burnout term to capture the realities of people s.
experiences in the workplace is what has made it both important and controversial. in the research field As the language of the people burnout was more grounded. in the complexities of people s relationship to work and gave new attention to. some aspects of it However burnout was also derided at first as nonscholarly. pop psychology Unlike other research on the workplace which used a top. down approach derived from a scholarly theory burnout research initially utilized. a bottom up or grass roots approach derived from people s workplace experi. ences At first the popular nonacademic origins of burnout were more of a liabil. ity than an advantage However given the subsequent development of theoretical. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,BURNOUT 399. models and numerous empirical studies the issue of research scholarship has now. been laid to rest, What has emerged from all of this research is a conceptualization of job burnout. as a psychological syndrome in response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the. job The three key dimensions of this response are an overwhelming exhaustion. feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job and a sense of ineffectiveness. and lack of accomplishment The exhaustion component represents the basic indi. vidual stress dimension of burnout It refers to feelings of being overextended and. depleted of one s emotional and physical resources The cynicism or depersonal. ization component represents the interpersonal context dimension of burnout It. refers to a negative callous or excessively detached response to various aspects. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. of the job The component of reduced efficacy or accomplishment represents the. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. self evaluation dimension of burnout It refers to feelings of incompetence and a. lack of achievement and productivity at work, The goal of this chapter is to provide a critical analysis of what has been learned. from the past 25 years of work on job burnout We frame each of the sections. in terms of key research questions that have been raised and then summarize. the theoretical and empirical responses to them A comprehensive citation of the. research literature is available elsewhere Cordes Dougherty 1993 Schaufeli. Enzmann 1998 our focus here is on what we see as the major issues in the field. HISTORY OF BURNOUT RESEARCH, These major issues and themes have been shaped in important ways by the history. of the research on burnout This research has gone through distinct phases of. development,The Pioneering Phase, In the first phase the work was exploratory and had the goal of articulating the phe.
nomenon of burnout The initial articles appeared in the mid 1970s in the United. States and their primary contribution was to describe the basic phenomenon give. it a name and show that it was not an uncommon response This early writing was. based on the experience of people working in human services and health care. occupations in which the goal is to provide aid and service to people in need and. which can therefore be characterized by emotional and interpersonal stressors The. initial articles were written by Freudenberger 1975 a psychiatrist working in an. alternative health care agency and by Maslach 1976 a social psychologist who. was studying emotions in the workplace Freudenberger provided direct accounts. of the process by which he and others experienced emotional depletion and a loss. of motivation and commitment and he labeled it with a term being used collo. quially to refer to the effects of chronic drug abuse burnout Maslach interviewed. a wide range of human services workers about the emotional stress of their jobs. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,400 MASLACH SCHAUFELI LEITER. and discovered that the coping strategies had important implications for people s. professional identity and job behavior, Thus burnout research had its roots in care giving and service occupations. in which the core of the job was the relationship between provider and recipient. This interpersonal context of the job meant that from the beginning burnout. was studied not so much as an individual stress response but in terms of an. individual s relational transactions in the workplace Moreover this interpersonal. context focused attention on the individual s emotions and on the motives and. values underlying his or her work with recipients, The clinical and social psychological perspectives of the initial articles influ. enced the nature of the first phase of burnout research On the clinical side the. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. focus was on symptoms of burnout and on issues of mental health On the social. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. side the focus was on the relationship between provider and recipient and on the. situational context of service occupations Most of this initial research was de. scriptive and qualitative in nature utilizing such techniques as interviews case. studies and on site observations, Several themes emerged from these early interviews in the human services. suggesting that the burnout phenomenon had some identifiable regularities First. it was clear that the provision of service or care can be a very demanding and. involving occupation and that emotional exhaustion is not an uncommon response. to such job overload The second component of depersonalization cynicism also. emerged from these interviews as people described how they tried to cope with. the emotional stresses of their work Moderating one s compassion for clients. by emotional distance from them detached concern was viewed as a way. of protecting oneself from intense emotional arousal that could interfere with. functioning effectively on the job However an imbalance of excessive detachment. and little concern seemed to lead staff to respond to clients in negative callous. and dehumanized ways, A better feel for the situational context of the provider recipient relationship.
came from field observations in addition to the interviews It was possible to see. first hand some of the job factors that had been described in earlier interviews such. as the high number of clients caseload prevalence of negative client feedback. and scarcity of resources It was also possible to observe other unreported aspects. of the interaction between provider and client such as nonverbal distancing. Interwoven throughout this early work was a central focus on relationships. usually between provider and recipient but also between provider and coworkers. or family members These relationships were the source of both emotional strains. and rewards and sometimes they functioned as a resource for coping with stress. The centrality of these interactions for the experiences that were being described. made it clear that a contextual analysis of the overall phenomenon would be the. most appropriate way to gain insight into it, In addition this first phase was characterized by a strong applied orientation. which reflected the particular set of social economic historical and cultural factors. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,BURNOUT 401. of the 1970s These factors influenced the professionalization of the human ser. vices in the United States and had made it more difficult for people to find ful. fillment and satisfaction in these careers see Cherniss 1980 Farber 1983 The. strong concern in these occupations about the problem of burnout led to calls for. immediate solutions despite the lack of much solid knowledge of burnout s causes. and correlates Burnout workshops became a primary mode of intervention and. were also used as sources of data by some researchers e g Pines et al 1981. The Empirical Phase, In the 1980s the work on burnout shifted to more systematic empirical research. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. This work was more quantitative in nature utilizing questionnaire and survey. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. methodology and studying larger subject populations A particular focus of this. research was the assessment of burnout and several different measures were devel. oped The scale that has had the strongest psychometric properties and continues. to be used most widely by researchers is the Maslach Burnout Inventory MBI. developed by Maslach Jackson 1981 The MBI was originally designed for use. in human service occupations However in response to the interest in burnout by. teachers a second version of the MBI was soon developed for use by educational. occupations With the growing body of empirical research alternative proposals. began to be generated about the developmental course of burnout over time. The shift to greater empiricism was accompanied by theoretical and method. ological contributions from the field of industrial organizational psychology. Burnout was viewed as a form of job stress with links to such concepts as job sat. isfaction organizational commitment and turnover The industrial organizational. approach when combined with the prior work based in clinical and social psy. chology generated a richer diversity of perspectives on burnout and strengthened. the scholarly base via the use of standardized tools and research designs. In the 1990s this empirical phase continued but with several new directions. First the concept of burnout was extended to occupations beyond the human. services and education e g clerical computer technology military managers. Second burnout research was enhanced by more sophisticated methodology and. statistical tools The complex relationships among organizational factors and the. three components of burnout led to the use of structural models in much burnout. research This approach permits researchers to examine the contribution of many. potential influences and consequences simultaneously separating unique contrib. utors to the development of burnout from those that are redundant Third a few. longitudinal studies began to assess the links between the work environment at. one time and the individual s thoughts and feelings at a later time In addition to. addressing the fundamental premise that burnout is a consequence of the inter. action of an individual with a worksetting longitudinal studies are important for. assessing the impact of interventions to alleviate burnout. In the following sections we summarize the key themes and issues that have. emerged from this body of work We first consider the concept of burnout in. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,402 MASLACH SCHAUFELI LEITER. terms of both theory and assessment Next we review the findings for situational. factors and individual factors We then review three areas in which there has been. a recent expansion of work on burnout an international expansion of research a. theoretical expansion to a model of person job fit and an expansion of the basic. construct to include the positive state of job engagement Finally we consider. implications of all this work for intervention,DEFINING THE CONSTRUCT What Is Burnout.
Burnout was initially a very slippery concept there was no standard definition of. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. it although there was a wide variety of opinions about what it was and what could. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. be done about it Different people used the term to mean very different things so. there was not always a basis for constructive communication about the problem. and solutions for it However there was actually an underlying consensus about. three core dimensions of the burnout experience and subsequent research on this. issue led to the development of a multidimensional theory of burnout Maslach. 1982 1998 This theoretical framework continues to be the predominant one in. the burnout field,Assessment, The only measure that assesses all three of the core dimensions is the MBI see. Maslach et al 1996 for the most recent edition The MBI Human Services Survey. MBI HSS was designed for use with people working in the human services and. health care A second version was developed for use by people working in educa. tional settings the MBI Educators Survey or MBI ES In both the HSS and ES. forms the labels for the three dimensions reflected the focus on occupations where. workers interacted extensively with other people clients patients students etc. emotional exhaustion depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. Given the increasing interest in burnout within occupations that are not so. clearly people oriented a third general version of the MBI was developed the. MBI General Survey or MBI GS Here the three components of the burnout. construct are conceptualized in slightly broader terms with respect to the job. and not just to the personal relationships that may be a part of that job Thus the. labels for the three components are exhaustion cynicism a distant attitude toward. the job and reduced professional efficacy The MBI GS assesses the same three. dimensions as the original measure using slightly revised items and maintains a. consistent factor structure across a variety of occupations. Three Dimensions of Burnout, Exhaustion is the central quality of burnout and the most obvious manifestation. of this complex syndrome When people describe themselves or others as expe. riencing burnout they are most often referring to the experience of exhaustion. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,BURNOUT 403. Of the three aspects of burnout exhaustion is the most widely reported and the. most thoroughly analyzed The strong identification of exhaustion with burnout. has led some to argue that the other two aspects of the syndrome are incidental. or unnecessary Shirom 1989 However the fact that exhaustion is a necessary. criterion for burnout does not mean it is sufficient If one were to look at burnout. out of context and simply focus on the individual exhaustion component one. would lose sight of the phenomenon entirely, Although exhaustion reflects the stress dimension of burnout it fails to capture. the critical aspects of the relationship people have with their work Exhaustion is. not something that is simply experienced rather it prompts actions to distance. oneself emotionally and cognitively from one s work presumably as a way to. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. cope with the work overload Within the human services the emotional demands. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. of the work can exhaust a service provider s capacity to be involved with and. responsive to the needs of service recipients Depersonalization is an attempt. to put distance between oneself and service recipients by actively ignoring the. qualities that make them unique and engaging people Their demands are more. manageable when they are considered impersonal objects of one s work Outside of. the human services people use cognitive distancing by developing an indifference. or cynical attitude when they are exhausted and discouraged Distancing is such. an immediate reaction to exhaustion that a strong relationship from exhaustion to. cynicism depersonalization is found consistently in burnout research across a. wide range of organizational and occupational settings. The relationship of inefficacy reduced personal accomplishment to the other. two aspects of burnout is somewhat more complex In some instances it appears. to be a function to some degree of either exhaustion cynicism or a combination. of the two Byrne 1994 Lee Ashforth 1996 A work situation with chronic. overwhelming demands that contribute to exhaustion or cynicism is likely to erode. one s sense of effectiveness Further exhaustion or depersonalization interfere. with effectiveness It is difficult to gain a sense of accomplishment when feeling. exhausted or when helping people toward whom one is indifferent However in. other job contexts inefficacy appears to develop in parallel with the other two. burnout aspects rather than sequentially Leiter 1993 The lack of efficacy seems. to arise more clearly from a lack of relevant resources whereas exhaustion and. cynicism emerge from the presence of work overload and social conflict. Discriminant Validity, Some of the early discussion about burnout focused on issues of discriminant.
validity that is was burnout truly a distinctly different phenomenon from other. established constructs A variety of such constructs were considered but the pri. mary focus was on two depression and job satisfaction Speculation on these. issues was often more frequent than empirical data. Research conducted during the development of the MBI found burnout to be. related to anxiety and depression Subsequently the distinction between burnout. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,404 MASLACH SCHAUFELI LEITER. and depression was established empirically in several studies using the MBI and. various measures of depression Bakker et al 2000 Glass McKnight 1996. Leiter Durup 1994 This research established that burnout is a problem that is. specific to the work context in contrast to depression which tends to pervade every. domain of a person s life These findings lent empirical support to earlier claims. that burnout is more job related and situation specific than general depression. Freudenberger 1983 Warr 1987 However as noted later individuals who are. more depression prone as indicated by higher scores on neuroticism are more. vulnerable to burnout, Further support for this distinction comes from an analysis of various con. ceptualizations of burnout which notes five common elements of the burnout. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. phenomenon Maslach Schaufeli 1993 a There is a predominance of dys. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. phoric symptoms such as mental or emotional exhaustion fatigue and depression. b The emphasis is on mental and behavioral symptoms more than physical ones. c Burnout symptoms are work related d The symptoms manifest themselves in. normal persons who did not suffer from psychopathology before e Decreased. effectiveness and work performance occur because of negative attitudes and be. haviors Most of these elements are represented in the diagnosis for job related. neurasthenia WHO 1992 so recent research has been utilizing this diagnosis as. the psychiatric equivalent of burnout A new study has found that burnout scores. on the MBI can distinguish psychiatric outpatients diagnosed with job related. neurasthenia from outpatients diagnosed with other mental disorders and that. the former group shows a less pathological profile than the latter Schaufeli et al. In the case of the distinction between job satisfaction and burnout the issue. concerns the interpretation of the commonly found negative correlation between. these two constructs ranging from 40 to 52 Although the correlation is not. large enough to conclude that the constructs are actually identical they are clearly. linked However the specific nature of that link is still a matter of speculation. Does burnout cause people to be dissatisfied with their job Or does a drop. in satisfaction serve as the precursor to burnout Alternatively both burnout. and job dissatisfaction may be caused by another factor such as poor working. conditions,Developmental Models, There has been a great deal of theorizing about the developmental trajectory of. burnout over time However there has been scant research to actually test any. of these hypotheses primarily because of the inherent difficulties of doing the. requisite longitudinal research Most of the relevant data have come from either. cross sectional studies or studies utilizing statistical causal models The few stud. ies that have used repeated measures have usually used a timeframe ranging from a. few months to one year the one notable exception is the set of case study interviews. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,BURNOUT 405. done as a 12 year follow up by Cherniss 1995 The most recent longitudinal re. search has developed more sophisticated analyses for identifying how changes in. work stressors can predict changes in burnout Peiro et al 2001. Several folk theories about the development of burnout emerged from the inter. views of the earliest pioneering phase of research One theory is that it is the best. and most idealistic workers who experience burnout as captured in the common. phrase You have to have been on fire in order to burn out The notion here. is that such dedicated people end up doing too much in support of their ideals. thus leading to exhaustion and eventual cynicism when their sacrifice has not been. sufficient to achieve their goals A second theory is that burnout is the end result. of long exposure to chronic job stressors Consequently burnout ought to occur. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. later in people s careers rather than earlier and it should be relatively stable over. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. time if people stay in the same job There has also been debate about whether. burnout results from overload i e too many demands with too few resources or. from underload i e tedium and monotony, Once the three dimensions of the burnout syndrome had been identified sev.
eral developmental models were presented in these dimensional terms The phase. model proposed that each of the three dimensions be split into high and low. scores so that all possible combinations of the three dimensions resulted in eight. patterns or phases of burnout Golembiewski Munzenrider 1988 In terms. of development one alternative was that depersonalization cynicism is the first. phase of burnout followed by inefficacy and finally exhaustion Another alter. native was that the different dimensions developed simultaneously but indepen. dently and thus could result in the eight different patterns Research based on. the phase model has established that the progression of phases from low to high. burnout is correlated with worsening indices of both work and personal well. Another model of the three dimensions hypothesized a different sequential. progression over time in which the occurrence of one dimension precipitates the. development of another According to this model exhaustion occurs first leading to. the development of cynicism which leads subsequently to inefficacy For example. a study of hospital nurses yielded the following sequence a Stressful interactions. with supervisors increase the workers feelings of exhaustion b high levels of. exhaustion lead to cynicism especially if workers lack supportive contact with. their coworkers c as cynicism persists the workers feelings of efficacy diminish. although supportive contact with coworkers may help to decelerate this process. Leiter Maslach 1988, In general the research on burnout has established the sequential link from. exhaustion to cynicism However as mentioned earlier the subsequent link to. inefficacy is less clear with the current data supporting a simultaneous development. of this third dimension rather than a sequential one It is also the case that burnout. scores are fairly stable over time which supports the notion that burnout is a. prolonged response to chronic job stressors,December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15. 406 MASLACH SCHAUFELI LEITER, The significance of burnout both for the individual and the workplace lies in. its links to important outcomes Most of the outcomes that have been studied. have been ones related to job performance There has also been some attention. paid to health outcomes given that burnout is considered a stress phenomenon. However the research findings have to be interpreted with some caution because. of the reliance on self report measures rather than other indices of performance. or health and the relative absence of methodological designs that permit causal. inferences, Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. Job Performance Burnout has been associated with various forms of job. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. withdrawal absenteeism intention to leave the job and actual turnover How. ever for people who stay on the job burnout leads to lower productivity and. effectiveness at work Consequently it is associated with decreased job satisfac. tion and a reduced commitment to the job or the organization. People who are experiencing burnout can have a negative impact on their col. leagues both by causing greater personal conflict and by disrupting job tasks. Thus burnout can be contagious and perpetuate itself through informal interac. tions on the job There is also some evidence that burnout has a negative spillover. effect on people s home life Burke Greenglass 2001. Health The exhaustion component of burnout is more predictive of stress related. health outcomes than the other two components These physiological correlates. mirror those found with other indices of prolonged stress Parallel findings have. been found for the link between burnout and various forms of substance abuse. In terms of mental health the link with burnout is more complex As mentioned. earlier burnout has been linked to the personality dimension of neuroticism and. the psychiatric profile of job related neurasthenia Such data might support the. argument that burnout is itself a form of mental illness However a more common. assumption has been that burnout causes mental dysfunction that is it precipi. tates negative effects in terms of mental health such as anxiety depression drops. in self esteem and so forth An alternative argument is that people who are men. tally healthy are better able to cope with chronic stressors and thus less likely to. experience burnout Although not assessing burnout directly one study addressed. this question by analyzing archival longitudinal data of people who worked in. interpersonally demanding jobs i e emotionally demanding helper roles or. jobs that deal with people in stressful situations The results showed that people. who were psychologically healthier in adolescence and early adulthood were more. likely to enter and remain in such jobs and they showed greater involvement and. satisfaction with their work Jenkins Maslach 1994 Given this longitudinal. data set this study was better able to establish possible causal relationships than. typical correlational studies can,December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15.
BURNOUT 407,SITUATIONAL FACTORS Where Does Burnout Occur. Burnout is an individual experience that is specific to the work context Thus the. research over the past 25 years has maintained a consistent focus on the situational. factors that are the prime correlates of this phenomenon The results of this research. paint a clear picture of the impact of the work situation on individual burnout. Job Characteristics, Quantitative job demands e g too much work for the available time have been. studied by many burnout researchers and the findings support the general notion. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. that burnout is a response to overload Experienced workload and time pressure are. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. strongly and consistently related to burnout particularly the exhaustion dimension. This pattern is found with both self reports of experienced strain and more objective. measures of demands such as number of hours worked and number of clients. Studies of qualitative job demands have focused primarily on role conflict and. role ambiguity both of which consistently show a moderate to high correlation. with burnout Role conflict occurs when conflicting demands at the job have to be. met whereas role ambiguity occurs when there is a lack of adequate information. to do the job well Other qualitative job demands such as the severity of clients. problems have only been studied occasionally but the correlations are in the same. In addition to studying the presence of job demands burnout researchers have. investigated the absence of job resources The resource that has been studied most. extensively has been social support and there is now a consistent and strong body. of evidence that a lack of social support is linked to burnout Lack of support from. supervisors is especially important even more so than support from coworkers. Within the social support literature there is also a buffering hypothesis that. suggests that social support should moderate the relationship between job stressors. and burnout i e the relationship will be strong when social support is low but. weak when support is high However studies of this hypothesis have met with. mixed success and it is not clear whether this outcome is due to methodological. or theoretical issues, Another set of job resources has to do with information and control A lack of. feedback is consistently related to all three dimensions of burnout Burnout is also. higher for people who have little participation in decision making Similarly a lack. of autonomy is correlated with burnout although the strength of the relationship. Occupational Characteristics, The initial work on burnout developed out of the occupational sector of human ser. vices and education which continues to be the primary focus of burnout studies. Of particular concern in these occupations were the emotional challenges of. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,408 MASLACH SCHAUFELI LEITER.
working intensively with other people in either a caregiving or teaching role Later. research expanded the focus to occupations that included contact with people but. for which the contact fell short of the demands of this more extensive relation. ship e g managers and eventually some studies utilized occupations for which. contact with people was a lesser consideration e g computer programmers Al. though the burnout concept seems to pertain to this wider range of occupations. there was still the hypothesis that the emotional stressors of people work were. something uniquely related to burnout Earlier research did not find much evi. dence to support such a hypothesis instead common job related stressors such. as workload time pressure or role conflicts correlated more highly with burnout. than client related stressors such as problems in interacting with clients frequency. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. of contact with chronically or terminally ill patients or confrontation with death. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. and dying However new research has focused explicitly on emotion work vari. ables e g requirement to display or suppress emotions on the job requirement. to be emotionally empathic and has found that these emotion factors do account. for additional variance in burnout scores over and above job stressors Zapf et al. Another approach has been to look at the prevalence of burnout for different. occupations as defined by their profiles on the three dimensions A recent compar. ison was made of burnout profiles for five occupational sectors teaching social. services medicine mental health and law enforcement in two countries the. United States and Holland and the results revealed similar occupational profiles. in both nations Schaufeli Enzmann 1998 Profiles of law enforcement i e po. lice officers and prison guards were characterized by comparatively high levels of. cynicism and inefficacy and low levels of exhaustion Teaching was characterized. by the highest level of exhaustion with both other dimensions close to the nation s. average Medicine in both countries was characterized by somewhat lower levels. of exhaustion and cynicism and by slightly higher levels of inefficacy However. the profiles of workers in social services and mental health care differed by nation. In the United States levels of cynicism in the social services were relatively high. whereas they were about average in Holland Mental health workers in the United. States experienced lower levels of exhaustion and cynicism but in Holland these. levels were higher, Such profiles suggest that there are important characteristics of these occupa. tions that affect workers experience of burnout However these findings need to. be viewed with some caution as there are other factors that could be involved For. example there is a greater heterogeneity of specific occupations within some sec. tors than in others so the overall profiles might be masking important differences. Furthermore there are confounding variables with some occupations which need. to be taken into account For example men predominate in law enforcement oc. cupations and cynicism is usually higher for males It is not clear at this point. whether the latter findings reflect methodological variations e g in sampling or. substantive national differences e g in nature of job demands or personal selec. tion Despite these differences in average level the more noteworthy point is that. the basic patterns of burnout are fairly similar across both countries. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,BURNOUT 409. Organizational Characteristics, The increasing breadth of occupational sectors has required a rethinking of the. situational context for burnout Prior research has tended to focus on the immediate. context in which work occurs whether that be a nurse s work with patients in a. hospital or a teacher s work with students in a school However this work often. takes place within a larger organization that includes hierarchies operating rules. resources and space distribution All of these factors can have a far reaching and. persistent influence particularly when they violate basic expectations of fairness. and equity Consequently the contextual focus has been broadened to include the. organizational and management environment in which work occurs This focus. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. has highlighted the importance of the values implicit in organizational processes. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. and structures and how these values shape the emotional and cognitive relationship. that people develop with their work This research has important implications for. burnout but because it is still fairly new a summary of major patterns in the data. is not yet warranted, The organizational context is also shaped by larger social cultural and eco. nomic forces Recently this has meant that organizations have undergone a lot of. changes such as downsizing and mergers that have had significant effects on the. lives of their employees This is perhaps most evident in changes in the psycho. logical contract i e the belief in what the employer is obliged to provide based. on perceived promises of reciprocal exchange Rousseau 1995 Now employees. are expected to give more in terms of time effort skills and flexibility whereas. they receive less in terms of career opportunities lifetime employment job se. curity and so on Violation of the psychological contract is likely to produce. burnout because it erodes the notion of reciprocity which is crucial in maintaining. well being,INDIVIDUAL FACTORS Who Experiences Burnout.
People do not simply respond to the work setting rather they bring unique qualities. to the relationship These personal factors include demographic variables such as. age or formal education enduring personality characteristics and work related. attitudes Several of these individual characteristics have been found to be related. to burnout However these relationships are not as great in size as those for. burnout and situational factors which suggests that burnout is more of a social. phenomenon than an individual one,Demographic Characteristics. Of all the demographic variables that have been studied age is the one that has. been most consistently related to burnout Among younger employees the level. of burnout is reported to be higher than it is among those over 30 or 40 years old. Age is confounded with work experience so burnout appears to be more of a risk. earlier in one s career The reasons for such an interpretation have not been studied. December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15,410 MASLACH SCHAUFELI LEITER. very thoroughly However these findings should be viewed with caution because. of the problem of survival bias i e those who burn out early in their careers are. likely to quit their jobs leaving behind the survivors who consequently exhibit. lower levels of burnout, The demographic variable of sex has not been a strong predictor of burnout. despite some arguments that burnout is more of a female experience Some. studies show higher burnout for women some show higher scores for men and. others find no overall differences The one small but consistent sex difference is. that males often score higher on cynicism There is also a tendency in some studies. for women to score slightly higher on exhaustion These results could be related. to gender role stereotypes but they may also reflect the confounding of sex with. Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. occupation e g police officers are more likely to be male nurses are more likely. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. to be female, With regard to marital status those who are unmarried especially men seem. to be more prone to burnout compared with those who are married Singles seem to. experience even higher burnout levels than those who are divorced As for ethnicity. very few studies have assessed this demographic variable so it is not possible to. summarize any empirical trends, Some studies have found that those with a higher level of education report.
higher levels of burnout than less educated employees It is not clear how to. interpret this finding given that education is confounded with other variables. such as occupation and status It is possible that people with higher education. have jobs with greater responsibilities and higher stress Or it may be that more. highly educated people have higher expectations for their jobs and are thus more. distressed if these expectations are not realized,Personality Characteristics. Several personality traits have been studied in an attempt to discover which types. of people may be at greater risk for experiencing burnout People who display low. levels of hardiness involvement in daily activities a sense of control over events. and openness to change have higher burnout scores particularly on the exhaustion. dimension Burnout is higher among people who have an external locus of control. attributing events and achievements to powerful others or to chance rather than. an internal locus of control attributions to one s own ability and effort Similar. results have been reported on coping styles and burnout Those who are burned. out cope with stressful events in a rather passive defensive way whereas active. and confrontive coping is associated with less burnout In particular confrontive. coping is associated with the dimension of efficacy In other research all three. burnout dimensions have been related to lower self esteem. It has been argued that low levels of hardiness poor self esteem an external. locus of control and an avoidant coping style typically constitute the profile of a. stress prone individual Semmer 1996 Obviously the results from the burnout. research confirm this personality profile,December 11 2000 22 50 Annual Reviews AR120 15. BURNOUT 411, Research on the Big Five personality dimensions has found that burnout is. linked to the dimension of neuroticism Neuroticism includes trait anxiety hos. tility depression self consciousness and vulnerability neurotic individuals are. emotionally unstable and prone to psychological distress The exhaustion dimen. sion of burnout also appears to be linked to Type A behavior competition time. pressured lifestyle hostility and an excessive need for control There are also. indications that individuals who are feeling types rather than thinking types. in terms of a Jungian analysis are more prone to burnout especially to cynicism. Job Attitudes, Annu Rev Psychol 2001 52 397 422 Downloaded from www annualreviews org. People vary in the expectations they bring to their job In some cases these ex. Access provided by Utrecht University on 03 30 15 For personal use only. pectations are very high both in terms of the nature of the work e g exciting. challenging fun and the likelihood of achieving success e g curing patients. getting promoted Whether such high expectations are considered to be idealistic. or unrealistic one hypothesis has been that they are a risk factor for burnout Pre. sumably high expectations lead people to work too hard and do too much thus. leading to exhaustion and eventual cynicism when the high effort does not yield. the expected results This hypothesis has received mixed empirical support about. half of the studies find the hypothesized correlation whereas the rest do not Once. again however this is an instance where a correlation does not actually test the. causal relationship inherent in the hypothesis Longitudinal studies with repeated. measures will be necessary to shed light on this issue. EXPANDING THE RESEARCH International Studies, One of the key domains in which burnout research has expanded is in extending.
beyond its original American borders At first the phenomenon drew attention. in English speaking countries such as Canada and Great Britain Soon articles. books and research measures were translated into numerous languages and sub. sequently research on burnout emerged in many European countries as well as. Because burnout research in these countries started after the concept and mea. sures had been established in the United States that work built on an already estab. lished theoretical and methodological base Hence the initial conceptual debate. on burnout was less broad and alternative measures were rarely developed Given. that the MBI had become the instrument of choice to measure burnout in North. America the concept of burnout as operationalized in terms of the MBI was ex. ported to other countries However by the 1990s the intellectual contributions. of non Anglo Saxon authors in terms of theory research and intervention were. considerable, To date burnout has been studied in many countries around the globe Interest. ingly the term burnout is left untranslated in almost all countries although literal.

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