Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate effects of a 3-week resort-based spa therapy (a combination of balneotherapy, massages, exercise etc., including a respite from work) on psychological symptoms associated with occupational burnout.
Patients and methods: In a longitudinal design, a group of 65 actively working individuals (45 women, 20 men, mean age 50.4 +/- 6.7 years) of various occupations selected on the basis of their level of burnout and undergoing spa therapy primarily for musculoskeletal pain were studied in regard to the change in fatigue, distress, reduced motivation, and quality of sleep. Variables were assessed at the beginning and at the end of spa therapy as well as 4 weeks and 3 months after treatment. Two levels of burnout were distinguished: individuals with mild burnout (i.e. increased emotional exhaustion) and individuals with a full burnout syndrome (i.e. increased exhaustion plus social detachment and/or performance dissatisfaction).
Results: At the end of the treatment, all four symptoms of burnout showed a significant improvement in both groups compared to their pre-treatment level. This improvement was sustained up to 3 months post-treatment for both burnout groups.
Conclusion: Spa therapy may be a helpful measure for treating the symptoms of occupational burnout.
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