Occupational burnout

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This article is about burnout related to one's occupation. For long-term loss of focus (over many years), see burnout (psychology).

Occupational burnout or job burnout is characterized by exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, feelings of ineffectiveness, and also may have the dimension of frustration or cynicism, and as a result reduced efficacy within the workplace.[1] A growing body of evidence suggests that burnout is clinically and nosologically similar to depression.[2][3][4][5][6] Burnout is caused by long-term high stress levels, and occupational burnout is a type of stress itself.[1]

Occupational burnout is typically and particularly found within human service professions. Professions with high levels of burnout include social workers, nurses, teachers, lawyers, engineers, physicians, customer service representatives, and police officers.[7] One reason why burnout is so prevalent within the human services field is due in part, to the high stress work environment and emotional demands of the job.[1]

Causes[edit]

Among the causes of occupational burnout are:[8]

  • critical boss
  • perfectionism
  • lack of recognition
  • inadequate pay
  • under-employment
  • tasks with no end
  • impossible tasks / nearly impossible problems for solving
  • difficult clients (e.g. for social workers)
  • incompatible demands (many demands that may not be achieved together)
  • bureaucracy

also

  • conflicting roles (home, family)
  • value conflicts (personal / workplace values)
  • meaninglessness of achieved goals (the success type of burnout)
  • social and emotional skills deficit

Prevention[edit]

For the purpose of preventing occupational burnout, various stress management interventions have been shown to help improve employee health and wellbeing in the workplace and lower stress levels. Training employees in ways to manage stress in the workplace have also proven effective in prevention of burnout.[9] One study suggest that social-cognitive processes such as commitment to work, self-efficacy, learned resourcefulness and hope may insulate individuals from experiencing occupational burnout.[10] Increased job control is another intervention shown to help counteract exhaustion and cynicism in the workplace.[11]

Burnout prevention programs have traditionally focused on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive restructuring, didactic stress management, and relaxation. CBT, relaxation techniques (including physical techniques and mental techniques), and schedule changes are the best-supported techniques for reducing and preventing burnout in a health-care specific setting. Combining both organizational and individual level activities may be the most beneficial approach to reduce symptoms.[1]

In order to quell occupational burnout, it is important to reduce or remove the negative aspects of the three main components that make up occupational burnout. However, it is difficult to treat all three components as the three burnout symptoms react to the same preventive or treatment activities in different ways.[12] Exhaustion is more easily treated than cynicism and professional efficacy, which tend to be more resistant to treatment. Research shows that intervention actually may worsen the professional efficacy of one who originally had low professional efficacy.[13]

Employee rehabilitation is defined as a tertiary preventive intervention which means the strategies used in rehabilitation are meant to alleviate, as well as prevent, burnout symptoms.[12] Such rehabilitation of the working population includes multidisciplinary activities with the intent of maintaining and improving employees' working ability and ensuring a supply of skilled and capable labor in society.

Effects[edit]

Usually occupational burnout is associated with increased work experience, increased workload, but also absences and time missed from work, it shows up as an impaired empathy and cynical attitudes toward clientele and/or colleagues, and thoughts of quitting.[14]

Occupational burnout affects also social relationships and attitudes making interactions at home and at work difficult either because of the social withdrawal of the burned-out person or of making him more prone to conflict.[8] Withdrawing is a type of defense mechanism but in fact this has a negative effect because of the importance of social interactions for one's well being.[8] Burnout problems may lead to general health problems because of the stress becoming chronic, symptoms like headaches, colds, insomnia may appear together with overall tiredness.[8] At this point the person may attempt self-medication like drinking alcohol, smoking, taking sleep pills, stimulants like coffee, mood elevators, etc. which may pose a further risk for his health.[8] However burnout itself is not an ailment and is not recognized as a neurosis.[8]

Responder apathy syndrome[edit]

Responder apathy syndrome (RAS) is a controversial psychological diagnosis connected to occupational burnout that is not recognized by most physicians or psychologists.[15] Originally developed to explain the apathy seen in paramedics[16] and firefighters toward those calling for their help, the definition has generally been expanded to include nurses, respiratory therapists and other health care workers involved in direct patient care. Generally diagnosticians term the symptoms as generalized burnout[17] and ignore the occupation specific burnout termed RAS.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ruotsalainen J, Verbeek J, Mariné A, Serra C (2014). "Preventing occupational stress in healthcare workers". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 12: CD002892. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002892.pub4. PMID 25482522. 
  2. ^ Ahola, K., Hakanen, J., Perhoniemi, R., & Mutanen, P. (2014). Relationship between burnout and depressive symptoms: A study using the person-centred approach. Burnout Research, 1(1), 29-37.
  3. ^ Bianchi, R., & Laurent, E. (in press). Emotional information processing in depression and burnout: An eye-tracking study. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.
  4. ^ Bianchi, R., Schonfeld, I. S., & Laurent, E. (2014). Is burnout a depressive disorder? A re-examination with special focus on atypical depression. International Journal of Stress Management, 21(4), 307-324.
  5. ^ Bianchi, R., Schonfeld, I. S., & Laurent, E. (in press). Is burnout separable from depression in cluster analysis? A longitudinal study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
  6. ^ Hintsa, T., Elovainio, M., Jokela, M., Ahola, K., Virtanen, M., & Pirkola, S. (in press). Is there an independent association between burnout and increased allostatic load? Testing the contribution of psychological distress and depression. Journal of Health Psychology.
  7. ^ Jackson, S., Schwab, R., & Schuler, R. (1986, November). Toward an understanding of the burnout phenomenon. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71(4), 630-640.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Beverly A. Potter, Overcoming Job Burnout: How to Renew Enthusiasm for Work, Ronin Publishing, 2005
  9. ^ William D. McLaurine, A correlational study of job burnout and organizational commitment among correctional officers, Capella University. School of Psychology, pp. 92
  10. ^ Elliott, T., Shewchuk, R., Hagglund, K., Rybarczyk, B., & Harkins, S. (1996, December). Occupational burnout, tolerance for stress, and coping among nurses in rehabilitation units. Rehabilitation Psychology, 41(4), 267-284.
  11. ^ Hatinen, M., Kinnunen, U., Pekkonen, M., and Kalimo, R. (2007). Comparing two burnout interventions: Perceived job control mediates decreases in burnout. International Journal of Stress Management. 14(3), 227-248
  12. ^ a b Hätinen, M., Kinnunen, U., Pekkonen, M., & Kalimo, R. (2007, August). Comparing two burnout interventions: Perceived job control mediates decreases in burnout. International Journal of Stress Management, 14(3), 227-248.
  13. ^ van Dierendonck, D., Schaufeli, W. B., & Buunk, B. P. (1998). The evaluation of an individual burnout intervention program: The role of inequity and social support. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 392–407.
  14. ^ Elliott, T., Shewchuk, R., Hagglund, K., Rybarczyk, B., & Harkins, S. (1996, December). Occupational burnout, tolerance for stress, and coping among nurses in rehabilitation units. Rehabilitation Psychology, 41(4), 267-284.
  15. ^ 4Responder Apathy Syndrome. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  16. ^ Rubin M (2011). "Get a clue: It can be all too easy to make assessment errors in the field; here's some tips to prevent you from making mistakes.". EMS World 40 (9): 57–64. PMID 21961428. 
  17. ^ Dickinson T, Wright KM (2008). "Stress and burnout in forensic mental health nursing: a literature review.". Br J Nurs 17 (2): 82–7. PMID 18414278. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Cooper, C. L., & Cartwright, S. (1997). An intervention strategy for workplace stress. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 43, 7–16.
  • Clanton, L. D., Rude, S., & Taylor, C. (1992). Learned resourcefulness as a moderator of burnout in a sample of rehabilitation providers. Rehabilitation Psychology, 37, 131–140.