Burnout in the working population: relations to psychosocial work factors

  • Karin M. LindblomEmail author
  • Steven J. Linton
  • Cecilia Fedeli
  • Ing-Liss Bryngelsson


This study investigated levels of burnout in the general population irrespective of occupation and relations between burnout and psychosocial work factors. A cross-sectional survey featuring sleep problems, psychological distress, burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey), and psychosocial factors at work, was mailed to a random sample of 3,000 participants, aged 20–60. Response rate was 61%. A high level (18%), a low level (19%), and an intermediate group (63%) for burnout were constructed. The high level group was associated with those who were > 50 years old, women, those experiencing psychological distress, and those with a poor psychosocial work climate. The analyses on variables significant in previous analyses showed that the high level group was strongly related to high demands, low control, lack of social support, and disagreeing about values at the workplace even when accounting for age, gender, and psychological distress. We conclude that psychosocial work factors are important in association to burnout regardless of occupation.

Key words

burnout stress MBI-GS general population psychosocial work factors 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders(4th ed.).Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, R. B., Davison, M., & Sefcik, D. (2002). A first survey-measuring burnout in emergency medicine physician assistants. JAAPA, 15(3), 40–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bjelland, I., Dahl, A. A., Haug, T. T., & Neckelmann, D. (2002). The validity of the hospital anxiety and depression scale. An updated literature review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 52, 69–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brill, P. L. (1984). The need for an operational definition of burnout. Family & Community Health, 6(4), 12–24.Google Scholar
  5. Brenninkmeijer, V., & Van Yperen, N. (2003). How to conduct research on burnout: Advantages and disadvantages of a unidimensional approach in burnout research. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60(Suppl. 1), i16-i20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Nachreiner, F., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). The job demands-resources model of burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 499–512.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Glass, D. C., & McKnight, J. D. (1996). Perceived control, depressive symptomatology, and professional burnout: A review of the evidence. Psychology & Health, 11, 23–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hallsten, L. (1993). Burning out: A framework. In W. B. Schaufeli, C. Maslach, & T. Marek (Eds.), Professional burnout: Recent developments in theory and research (pp. 95–113). Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  9. Hallsten, L., Bellagh, K., & Gustafsson, K. (2002). Utbränning i Sverige—En Populationsstudie [Burnout in Sweden—A population study]. Arbete & Hälsa 2002:6. [Work & Health 2002:6]. ISBN: 91-7045-639-9. Stockholm: National Institute for Working Life.Google Scholar
  10. Hane, M., Berggren, T., & Eriksson, A. (1984). The development of a questionnaire for the psychosocial work environment. Unpublished manuscript, Örebro, Sweden, The Foundation for Occupational and Environmental Research.Google Scholar
  11. Kalimo, R. (2000). The challenge of changing work and stress for human resources. The case of Finland. Journal of Tokyo Medical University, 58, 349–356.Google Scholar
  12. Kant, I. J., Bültmann, U., Schröer, K. A. P., Beurskens, A. J. H. M., Van Amelsvoort, L. G. P. M., & Swaen, G. M. H. (2003). An epidemiological approach to study fatigue in the working population: The Maastricht cohort study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60(Suppl. 1), i32-i39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 285–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lee, R. T., & Ashforth, B. E. (1996). A meta-analytic examination of the correlates of the three dimensions of job burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 123–133.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Leiter, M. P., & Harvie, P. (1998). Conditions for staff acceptance of organizational change: Burnout as a mediating construct. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 11, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (1999). Six areas of work life: A model of the organizational context of burnout. Journal of Health & Human Services Administration, 21, 472–489.Google Scholar
  17. Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (2000). Preventing burnout and building engagement: A complete program for organizational renewal. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  18. Linton, S. J., & Bryngelsson, I. L. (2000). Insomnia and its relationship to work and health in a working-age population. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 10, 169–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1986). Maslach Burnout Inventory manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  20. Maslach, C., Jackson, S. E., & Leiter, M. P. (1996). Maslach Burnout Inventory manual (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, Calif.: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  21. Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (1997). The truth about burnout. Chichester, USA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  22. McKnight, J. D., & Glass, D. C. (1995). Perceptions of control, burnout, and depressive symptomatology: A replication and extension. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 490–494.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Paoli, P., & Merllié, D. (2001). Third European survey on working conditions 2000. Retrieved November 16, 2000 from http:// Scholar
  24. Pines, A. M., & Aronson, E. (1988). Career burnout: Causes and cures. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  25. Pines, A. M., Aronson, E., & Kafry, D. (1981). Burnout: From tedium to personal growth. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  26. Rafferty, Y., Friend, R., & Landsbergis, P. A. (2001). The association between job skill discretion, decision authority and burnout. Work & Stress, 15, 73–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schaufeli, W. B., & Enzmann, D. (1998). The burnout companion to study and practice—A critical analysis. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  28. Schaufeli, W. B., & Van Dierendonck, D. (2000). UBOS—Utrechtse Burnout Schaal; Handleiding [Manual of the Dutch version of Maslach Burnout Inventory]. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger.Google Scholar
  29. Schaufeli, W. B., Van Dierendonck, D., & Van Gorp, K. (1996). Burnout and reciprocity: Towards a dual-level social exchange model. Work & Stress, 10, 225–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schutte, N., Toppinen, S., Kalimo, R., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2000). The factorial validity of the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS) across occupational groups and nations. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73, 53–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Siegrist, J., Peter, R., Junge, A., Cremer, P., & Seidel, D. (1990). Low status control, high effort at work and ischemic heart disease: Prospective evidence from blue-collar men. Social Science & Medicine, 31, 1127–1134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Taris, T. W., Schreurs, P. J. G., & Schaufeli, W. B. (1999). Construct validity of the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey: A two-sample examination of its factor structure and correlates. Work & Stress, 13, 223–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Turnipseed, D. L. (1998). Anxiety and burnout in the health care work environment. Psychological Reports, 82, 627–642.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vingård, E., Josephson, M., Larsson, S., Lindberg, P., Hallsten, L., Heijbel, B., et al. (2001). Hållbar Arbetshälsa I Kommuner Och Landsting—En Lägesrapport I Mars 2001 [Durable work health in local governments and county councils—A progress report, March, 2001]. Stockholm: Karolinska Institutet, Institutionen för klinisk neurovetenskap, Sektionen för personskadeprevention.Google Scholar
  35. Zigmond, A. S., & Snaith, R. P. (1983). The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 67, 361–370.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin M. Lindblom
    • 1
    Email author
  • Steven J. Linton
    • 1
  • Cecilia Fedeli
    • 1
  • Ing-Liss Bryngelsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Occupational and Environmental MedicineÖrebro Medical CenterÖrebroSweden

Personalised recommendations