Physiological correlates of burnout among women

J Psychosom Res. 2003 Oct;55(4):309-16. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00633-5.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the immune, endocrine, and metabolic correlates of burnout among women.

Methods: Forty-three participants with high and 20 participants with low scores for the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Questionnaire were compared in terms of subjective symptoms, job strain, social support, plasma levels of prolactin, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), C-reactive protein (CRP), neopterin, serum levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAs), progesterone, estradiol, cortisol, and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) in whole blood.

Results: Besides reporting more job strain, less social support at work, and higher levels of anxiety, depression, vital exhaustion (VE), and sleep impairments, participants with high burnout manifested higher levels of TNF-alpha and HbA1C, independent of confounders including depression.

Conclusions: Among women, burnout seems to involve enhanced inflammatory responses and oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Burnout, Professional / complications*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis
  • Women's Health


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha