Burnout and physical and mental health among Swedish healthcare workers

J Adv Nurs. 2008 Apr;62(1):84-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04580.x.


Aim: This paper is a report of a study to investigate how burnout relates to self-reported physical and mental health, sleep disturbance, memory and lifestyle factors.

Background: Previous research on the possible relationship between lifestyle factors and burnout has yielded somewhat inconsistent results. Most of the previous research on possible health implications of burnout has focused on its negative impact on mental health. Exhaustion appears to be the most obvious manifestation of burnout, which also correlates positively with workload and with other stress-related outcomes.

Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted, using questionnaires sent to all employees in a Swedish County Council (N = 6118) in 2002. The overall response rate was 65% (n = 3719). A linear discriminant analysis was used to look for different patterns of health indicators and lifestyle factors in four burnout groups (non-burnout, disengaged, exhausted and burnout).

Results: Self-reported depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, memory impairment and neck- and back pain most clearly discriminated burnout and exhausted groups from disengaged and non-burnout groups. Self-reported physical exercise and alcohol consumption played a minor role in discriminating between burnout and non-burnout groups, while physical exercise discriminated the exhausted from the disengaged group.

Conclusion: Employees with burnout had most symptoms, compared with those who experienced only exhaustion, disengagement from work or no burnout, and the result underlines the importance of actions taken to prevent and combat burnout.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Burnout, Professional / economics
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nursing Methodology Research / methods
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / economics
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Workload / psychology