International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 213–221 | Cite as

Is burnout related to allostatic load?

  • Saar LangelaanEmail author
  • Wilmar B. Schaufeli
  • Lorenz J. P. van Doornen
  • Arnold B. Bakker
  • Willem van Rhenen


Background: Burnout has a negative impact on physical health, but the mechanisms underlying this relation remain unclear. To elucidate these mechanisms, possible mediating physiological systems or risk factors for adverse health in burned-out employees should be investigated. Goal: The aim of the present study among 290 Dutch managers was to explore whether allostatic load mediates the relationship between burnout and physical health. Method: Burned-out managers, as identified with the Maslach Burnout Inventory General Survey (MBI-GS), were compared with a healthy control group with regard to their allostatic load. The allostatic load index included eight parameters: Body-mass index (BMI), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP), C-reactive protein (CRP), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), cholesterol, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) and glucose. Results: Contrary to expectations, burned-out managers did not differ from healthy managers with regard to their scores on the allostatic load index. An additional analysis, using groups of managers in the extreme deciles of exhaustion (the core symptom of burnout), did also not reveal differences in allostatic load. Conclusion: Burnout seems not to be associated with this proxy measure of allostatic load. The mediating physiological mechanisms between burnout and objective physical health remain to be elucidated.

Key words

Allostatic load blood pressure burnout cholesterol glucose physical health 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saar Langelaan
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Wilmar B. Schaufeli
    • 1
  • Lorenz J. P. van Doornen
    • 1
  • Arnold B. Bakker
    • 2
    • 3
  • Willem van Rhenen
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUtrecht University, The Netherlands, and Research School Psychology and Health, Utrecht UniversityThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Research School Psychology and HealthUtrecht UniversityThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute of PsychologyErasmus University RotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.ArboNed UtrechtThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Dept. of Social & Organizational PsychologyUtrecht UniversityTC UtrechtThe Netherlands

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