Burnout and effort–reward imbalance improvement for teachers by a manual-based group program

Abstract

Objective

We developed a manual-based psychological group program aimed at teachers and focussing on their professional relationships. The intervention comprised ten sessions over a 10-month period. The aim of the program was to strengthen teachers’ health. We investigated whether the effects of our intervention, during which the MBI and ERI were applied, result in general alleviation of occupational stress experienced by teachers.

Methods

This is a randomized controlled trial. All teachers (N = 2,484) of two school types (grammar schools and secondary modern schools) in 3 districts of southwestern Germany were invited to take part in our program. All teachers declaring their interest (N = 337) in the intervention were included in the project. They were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (N = 171) or to the control group (N = 166).

Results

We found that teachers who participated in at least 50% of the program benefited from this short intervention. Significant improvement was achieved on the two MBI scales, Emotional Exhaustion and Personal Accomplishment, as well as on the ERI subscale Appreciation.

Conclusion

Teachers’ occupational stress level may be decreased by taking part in a short manual-based psychological group intervention that focuses on more effective handling of interpersonal problems in school. Therefore, teachers should receive support and guidance in developing the appropriate skills necessary to cope with stress appropriately.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by a grant from the Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Berlin. We are grateful to Prof. Klaus Scheuch and Dr. Reingard Seibt (University of Dresden) who coordinated the project named “Lange Lehren”. The author thanks Siegfried Specker, Head of the Department of Education of the Regierungspraesidium Freiburg, for his valuable support. Special thanks go to the psychologists and psychotherapists who, after being trained and remaining under our supervision, moderated the intervention groups (in alphabetical order): Dr. Eva Albermann, Dipl.-Psych. Petra Bischoff, StDir. Veronika Buhl-Grießhaber, Dr. Irmtraud Dieterle, Lotte Fehrle, Dipl.-Psych Dorothea Fritsch, Dipl.-Psych. Brigitte Frommhold, Dipl.-Psych. Hubert Haaser, Dipl.-Psych. Anna Hack, Dr. Angela Kantner-Rauch, Dr. Klaus Kuhn, cand. phil. Mateo Lorei, Dr. Ilse Meyhöfer, Dr. Herbert Müller-Franke, Dipl.-Psych Dagmar Riepe, Dr. Gotthard von Stackelberg.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Joachim Bauer.

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Unterbrink, T., Pfeifer, R., Krippeit, L. et al. Burnout and effort–reward imbalance improvement for teachers by a manual-based group program. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 85, 667–674 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-011-0712-x

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Keywords

  • Teacher
  • Stress
  • Prevention
  • MBI
  • ERI
  • Occupational burden
  • Health