Burnout is generally perceived a unified disorder with homogeneous symptomatology across people (exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced professional efficacy). However, increasing evidence points to intra-individual patterns of burnout symptoms in non-clinical samples such as students, athletes, healthy, and burned-out employees. Different burnout subtypes might therefore exist. Yet, burnout subtypes based on burnout profiles have hardly been explored in clinical patients, and the samples investigated in previous studies were rather heterogeneous including patients with various physical, psychological, and social limitations, symptoms, and disabilities. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore burnout subtypes based on burnout profiles in clinically diagnosed burnout patients enrolled in an employee rehabilitation program, and to investigate whether the subtypes differ in depression, recovery/resources-stress balance, and sociodemographic characteristics.
One hundred three patients (66 women, 37 men) with a clinical burnout diagnosis, who were enrolled in a 5 week employee rehabilitation program in two specialized psychosomatic clinics in Austria, completed a series of questionnaires including the Maslach Burnout Inventory – General Survey (MBI-GS), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Recovery-Stress-Questionnaire for Work. Cluster analyses with the three MBI-GS subscales as clustering variables were used to identify the burnout subtypes. Subsequent multivariate/univariate analysis of variance and Pearson chi-square tests were performed to investigate differences in depression, recovery/resources-stress balance, and sociodemographic characteristics.
Three different burnout subtypes were discovered: the exhausted subtype, the exhausted/cynical subtype, and the burned-out subtype. The burned-out subtype and the exhausted/cynical subtype showed both more severe depression symptoms and a worse recovery/resources-stress balance than the exhausted subtype. Furthermore, the burned-out subtype was more depressed than the exhausted/cynical subtype, but no difference was observed between these two subtypes with regard to perceived stress, recovery, and resources. Sociodemographic characteristics were not associated with the subtypes.
The present study indicates that there are different subtypes in clinical burnout patients (exhausted, exhausted/cynical, and burned-out), which might represent patients at different developmental stages in the burnout cycle. Future studies need to replicate the current findings, investigate the stability of the symptom patterns, and examine the efficacy of rehabilitation interventions in different subtypes.
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- Subtypes in clinical burnout patients enrolled in an employee rehabilitation program: differences in burnout profiles, depression, and recovery/resources-stress balance
Elisabeth M. Weiss
- BioMed Central