Burnout in the general population

Results from the Finnish Health 2000 Study



Burnout is a chronic stress syndrome which develops gradually as a consequence of prolonged stress situation. Socio-demographic factors related to job-related burnout have not been studied in the whole population. We investigated the relative differences in the level of burnout between groups based on various socio-demographic factors in the population-based Finnish sample.


The nationally representative sample comprised 3,424 employees aged 30–64 years. Burnout was assessed with the Maslach Burnout Inventory–General Survey. The socio-demographic factors of interest were gender, age, education, type of employment, work experience, socio-economic status (SES), working time, and marital status.


Only small differences in burnout were found between the different population groups. As a three-dimensional syndrome, burnout was associated with age. In contrast to what has been consistently reported so far, mostly among human service work and in non-representative studies, burnout seemed to increase somewhat with age. Among women, burnout was also related to education, SES, and work experience, and among men, to marital status.


Burnout can evolve in all kinds of vocational groups. It seems that age does not generally protect against burnout. A low education level and low social status carry a possible risk of burnout for women, and being single, divorced, or widowed carry a possible risk of burnout for men.

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The authors thank Pirkko Alha, M.Sc., and Tommi Härkänen, Ph.D., from the National Public Health Institute, Kari Djerf, Lic.Soc.Sc, from Statistics Finland, and Professor Risto Lehtonen from the University of Jyväskylä for their help with the data, and Terttu Kaustia, MA, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health for linguistic editing.

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Correspondence to Kirsi Ahola.

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Ahola, K., Honkonen, T., Isometsä, E. et al. Burnout in the general population. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 41, 11 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-005-0011-5

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Key words

  • burnout
  • MBI-GS
  • population study
  • socio-demographic factors
  • age