Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of intervention programs at the workplace or elsewhere aimed at preventing burnout, a leading cause of work related mental health impairment.
Methods: A systematic search of burnout intervention studies was conducted in the databases Medline, PsycINFO and PSYNDEX from 1995 to 2007. Data was also extracted from papers found through a hand search.
Results: A total of 25 primary intervention studies were reviewed. Seventeen (68%) were person-directed interventions, 2 (8%) were organization-directed and 6 (24%) were a combination of both interventions types. Eighty percent of all programs led to a reduction in burnout. Person-directed interventions reduced burnout in the short term (6 months or less), while a combination of both person- and organization-directed interventions had longer lasting positive effects (12 months and over). In all cases, positive intervention effects diminished in the course of time.
Conclusion: Intervention programs against burnout are beneficial and can be enhanced with refresher courses. Better implemented programs including both person- and organization-directed measures should be offered and evaluated.
Practice implications: A combination of both intervention types should be further investigated, optimized and practiced. Institutions should recognize the need for and make burnout intervention programs available to employees.
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