Sociodemographic and occupational risk factors associated with the development of different burnout types: the cross-sectional University of Zaragoza study

BMC Psychiatry. 2011 Mar 29;11:49. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-11-49.


Background: Three different burnout types have been described: The "frenetic" type describes involved and ambitious subjects who sacrifice their health and personal lives for their jobs; the "underchallenged" type describes indifferent and bored workers who fail to find personal development in their jobs, and the "worn-out" in type describes neglectful subjects who feel they have little control over results and whose efforts go unacknowledged. The study aimed to describe the possible associations between burnout types and general sociodemographic and occupational characteristics.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out on a multi-occupational sample of randomly selected university employees (n = 409). The presence of burnout types was assessed by means of the "Burnout Clinical Subtype Questionnaire (BCSQ-36)", and the degree of association between variables was assessed using an adjusted odds ratio (OR) obtained from multivariate logistic regression models.

Results: Individuals working more than 40 hours per week presented with the greatest risk for "frenetic" burnout compared to those working fewer than 35 hours (adjusted OR = 5.69; 95% CI = 2.52-12.82; p < 0.001). Administration and service personnel presented the greatest risk of "underchallenged" burnout compared to teaching and research staff (adjusted OR = 2.85; 95% CI = 1.16-7.01; p = 0.023). Employees with more than sixteen years of service in the organisation presented the greatest risk of "worn-out" burnout compared to those with less than four years of service (adjusted OR = 4.56; 95% CI = 1.47-14.16; p = 0.009).

Conclusions: This study is the first to our knowledge that suggests the existence of associations between the different burnout subtypes (classified according to the degree of dedication to work) and the different sociodemographic and occupational characteristics that are congruent with the definition of each of the subtypes. These results are consistent with the clinical profile definitions of burnout syndrome. In addition, they assist the recognition of distinct profiles and reinforce the idea of differential characterisation of the syndrome for more effective treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / classification*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires