Objectives: The purpose of this longitudinal study was to investigate the effects of burnout on risk factors for arteriosclerotic disease.
Methods: Baseline data were collected from 442 male middle managers working for a manufacturing company in Japan. All participants had a physical health check-up and completed the Japanese Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey. We calculated the Japanese-specific cut-off points of the MBI-GS and applied "exhaustion +1" criterion to define subjects as healthy or burnout at baseline. Follow-up measures were collected 4-5 yr later for 383 middle managers. Changes in the subjects' waist circumference, body weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin, HOMA-R, and HbA1c over a time period of 4 to 5 yr were compared between the healthy and burnout groups. New cases of large waist circumference, high BMI, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, and impaired fasting glucose were detected at follow-up.
Results: Changes in waist circumference, body weight, and BMI were significantly greater in burned-out managers than in healthy managers. Furthermore, compared to other variables (age and health behaviors such as smoking), burnout was a significant explanatory variable. The odds ratio of the burnout group was 2.80 for hypercholesterolemia with statistical significance after adjusting for age. After adjusting for age, health behaviors, and baseline total cholesterol, the results were similar.
Conclusions: Burnout, which results from prolonged exposure to chronic work stress, may be associated with risk factors for arteriosclerotic disease.