Examination of developmental models of occupational burnout using burnout profiles of nurses

J Adv Nurs. 2008 Dec;64(5):514-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04818.x.


Aim: This paper is a report of a study to identify the occupational burnout profiles of a sample of nurses in Turkey and to examine alternative developmental models of burnout based on these profiles.

Background: Previous findings on causal links between components of occupational burnout have largely been inconclusive. There are divergent models of inter-temporal ordering of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment, which are the three dimensions of burnout.

Method: Data were collected with 248 nurses from five hospitals in Turkey in 2007. The Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to collect burnout data and the Job Descriptive Index was used to measure satisfaction with coworkers and supervisors. Following validity and reliability analyses of these instruments, burnout profiles were identified using cluster analysis and the resulting profiles were validated using analysis of variance.

Results: Three burnout profiles were identified and validated. Findings suggest a coupling of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. That is, nurses who reported higher levels of emotional exhaustion also reported higher levels of depersonalization. Examination of the profiles suggested a non-linear relationship between personal accomplishment and emotional exhaustion or depersonalization. More specifically, nurses with higher emotional exhaustion or depersonalization did not always report lower personal accomplishment.

Conclusion: Partial support for the developmental model that endorses temporal precedence of emotional exhaustion was found. The model that emphasizes temporal precedence of depersonalization was not supported. Depersonalization was found to be a dysfunctional coping strategy with respect to emotional exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion rather than depersonalization or perceptions of personal accomplishment should be screened for early detection and prevention of burnout.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Depersonalization / psychology
  • Humans
  • Job Description
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Turkey
  • Workload / psychology*
  • Young Adult