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Burnout, working conditions and gender: results from the northern Sweden MONICA Study
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
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2010 (English)In: BMC Public Health, ISSN 1471-2458, E-ISSN 1471-2458, Vol. 10, no 326Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Sick-leave because of mental and behavioural disorders has increased considerably in Sweden since the late nineties, and especially in women. The aim of this study was to assess the level of burnout in the general working population in northern Sweden and analyse it's relation to working conditions and gender.

METHODS: In this cross-sectional study the survey from the MONICA-study (Monitoring of Trends and Determinants in Cardiovascular Disease) in northern Sweden 2004 was used. A burnout instrument, the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ), was incorporated in the original survey which was sent to a random sample of 2500 individuals with a response rate of 76%. After including only actively working people, aged 25-64 years, our study population consisted of 1000 participants (497 women and 503 men). ANOVA and multiple linear regression models were used.

RESULTS: The prevalence of a high level of burnout (SMBQ >4.0) was 13%. Women had a higher level of burnout than men with the most pronounced difference in the age group 35-44 years. In both sexes the level of burnout decreased with age. Demand and control at work, and job insecurity were related to burnout. In women the level of education, socioeconomic position, work object, and working varying hours were of importance. Interaction effects were found between sex and work object, and sex and working hours. In a multiple regression analysis almost half of the gender difference could be explained by work related and life situational factors.

CONCLUSIONS: Working life conditions contributed to the level of burnout in this actively working sample from the general population in northern Sweden. Especially in women, socioeconomic position was associated with burnout. The high level of burnout in women compared to men was partly explained by more unfavourable working conditions and life situational factors. Efforts to level out gender differences in burnout should probably focus on improving both working and socioeconomic conditions for women.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 10, no 326
Keyword [en]
social support; mental-health; occupational burnout; disability pension; job strain; population; predictor; women; associations; exhaustion
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-35231DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-326ISI: 000279909900004PubMedID: 20534136OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-35231DiVA: diva2:338090
Available from: 2010-08-10 Created: 2010-08-10 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Psychosocial work factors and burnout: a study of a working general population and patients at a stress rehabilitation clinic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Psychosocial work factors and burnout: a study of a working general population and patients at a stress rehabilitation clinic
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background The psychosocial work environment affects our health (e.g., sick leave and mortality rates). Research on psychosocial work factors and burnout has focused on specific workplaces or occupations and rarely evaluated in the general population or used longitudinal designs. In Sweden, the diagnosis of exhaustion disorder (closely related to burnout) is a common cause for sick leave. The effects of psychosocial work environments on the process of returning to work has not been studied in this specific patient group. The overall aims of this thesis were to (1) assess the level of burnout in a working general population and investigate the importance of psychosocial work factors and sex on burnout, and (2) study reduction of sick leave and experiences of returning to work in burnout patients, with special attention towards psychosocial work factors.

Methods An occupationally active subset (n=1000) of the 2004 Northern Sweden MONICA survey was used in a cross-sectional study. A five-year follow-up of this population was also performed (n=626). Level of burnout was measured using the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ). Burnout patients were studied for the second thesis aim. A cohort of 117 patients from the REST project was investigated using a baseline questionnaire and sick leave data at two-year follow-up. Grounded Theory was used for an in-depth interview and analysis of 12 employed patients.

Results Cross-sectional results from the working general population showed that women have higher levels of burnout than men. In both sexes, work demands, work control, and job insecurity were associated with burnout levels. Among women, education, socioeconomic position, work object, and working hours were also important. Work factors in combination with situational life factors explained about half the difference in burnout level between women and men. Longitudinal results show that burnout levels decrease with age in both sexes, although the changes occur at an earlier age for men. A constant job strain, increased job insecurity, and a worsened economic situation are related to an increase in burnout level. When studying risk factor accumulation, each additional risk factor exposure increases the burnout level.

In burnout patients, low work control and use of covert coping towards supervisors and workmates predicts unchanged sick leave levels after a twoyear period. Borderline significance was found between work overcommitment and reduced sick leave. Both personal resources and external support are described as important factors when regaining the ability to work. Perceived validation, insights into the situation and adaptive coping skills increase the chance of regaining the ability to work. External support, particularly from the workplace, is also important.

Conclusion There are links between psychosocial work factors and burnout levels in a working general population and sick leave levels in burnout patients. Socioeconomic position and working conditions are important for the level of burnout among working women. In the working population, age differences occur between the sexes; women reduce their burnout levels later in life than men. In the burnout patient population, coping patterns and control at work predict sick leave levels after two years. Both internal resources and external support are important when burnout patients describe the process of regaining the ability to work. The workplace and the work environment are important in preventing working people from becoming burned out and in easeing return to work after sick leave. A person’s coping pattern is also important in reduction of sick leave.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2011. 54 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1439
Keyword
Burnout, exhaustion disorder, psychosocial work factors, coping, social support, demands, control, job strain, job insecurity, sick leave, return to work, working population, epidemiology, grounded theory
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-47623 (URN)978-91-7459-269-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-21, Hörsal Betula, Byggnad 6M, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-30 Created: 2011-09-26 Last updated: 2012-11-07Bibliographically approved

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