Self-reported exhaustion: a possible indicator of reduced work ability and increased risk of sickness absence among human service workers
- 766 Downloads
The aim of this study was to assess the construct and predictive validity of a new instrument for self-rating of stress-related Exhaustion Disorder (s-ED).
Public healthcare workers and social insurance officers, 85% females, were included (N = 2,683) in a longitudinal study. The s-ED instrument, based on clinical criteria for Exhaustion Disorder, was used at baseline to classify participants into three categories: non-s-ED, light/moderate s-ED and pronounced s-ED. Other assessments include burnout, anxiety, depression and work ability. Sick leave at follow-up after 2 years was defined as 14 days of ongoing sick leave (SA14) or a period of 60 days of sick leave during the last 12 months (SA60). Associations at baseline were expressed as prevalence ratios, and adjusted relative risks (RR) were calculated using Cox regression.
At baseline, 16% reported s-ED. Scores of depression, anxiety and burnout and the rate of poor work ability increased with increasing severity of s-ED. Self-reported exhaustion at baseline increased the risk of reporting sickness absence at follow-up; pronounced s-ED RR 2.7; CI 1.8–4.0 for SA14 and RR 3.4; CI 2.3–5.2 for SA60.
Self-rated ED corresponded well to established scales for mental health, indicating sufficient construct validity. Individuals reporting s-ED at baseline were more likely to report sickness absence at follow-up, confirming its predictive properties. The s-ED instrument may be a useful tool for occupational health services in identifying human service workers at risk of having or developing a potentially disabling stress-related mental illness.
KeywordsBurnout Exhaustion Validity Sickness absence Work ability Health personnel
This study was supported by a grant from the Swedish government.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Elo AL, Leppanen A, Jahkola A (2003) Validity of a single-item measure of stress symptoms. Scand J Work Environ Health 29:444–451Google Scholar
- Kujala V, Tammelin T, Remes J, Vammavaara E, Ek E, Laitinen J (2006) Work ability index of young employees and their sickness absence during the following year. Scand J Work Environ Health 32:75–84Google Scholar
- Melamed S, Kushnir T, Shirom A (1992) Burnout and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Behav Med 18:53–60Google Scholar
- National Board of Health and Welfare (2003) Exhaustion disorder. (In Swedish: Utmattningssyndrom- stressrelaterad psykisk ohälsa) StockholmGoogle Scholar
- Schaufeli WB, Enzman D (1998) The burnout companion to study and practice, a critical analysis. Taylor, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Shirom A, Melamed S, Toker S, Berliner S, Shapira I (2005) Burnout and health review: current knowledge and future research directions. In: Ford JK, Hodgkinson GP (eds) International review of industrial and organizational psychology, vol 20. Wiley, New York, pp 269–308Google Scholar
- Sjogren-Ronka T, Ojanen MT, Leskinen EK, Tmustalampi S, Malkia EA (2002) Physical and psychosocial prerequisites of functioning in relation to work ability and general subjective well-being among office workers. Scand J Work Environ Health 28:184–190Google Scholar
- Stenbeck M, Persson G (2006) Working life, work environment and health. In: Persson G, Danielsson M, Rosén M, Alexandersson K, Lundberg O, Lundgren B, Stenbeck M, Wall S (eds) Health in Sweden: the National Public Health Report 2005, vol. 67. Scand J Public Health Suppl, Stockholm, pp 229–245Google Scholar
- Torgén M (2002) Work ability in relation to age and occupational factors- results from a general population study. In: Caldenfors D, Eklund J, Kiviloog L (eds) The 34th NES Congress “Humans in a Complex Environment”. Kolmården: Linköping University, Linköping, pp 767–773Google Scholar
- Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J, Eskelinen L, Jarvinen E, Toikkanen J, Klockars M (1991a) Prevalence and incidence rates of diseases and work ability in different work categories of municipal occupations. Scand J Work Environ Health 17(Suppl 1):67–74Google Scholar
- Tuomi K, Luostarinen T, Ilmarinen J, Klockars M (1991b) Work load and individual factors affecting work disability among aging municipal employees. Scand J Work Environ Health 17(Suppl 1):94–98Google Scholar