Internal construct validity of the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ)

BMC Public Health. 2012 Jan 3:12:1. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-1.


Background: Burnout is a mental condition defined as a result of continuous and long-term stress exposure, particularly related to psychosocial factors at work. This paper seeks to examine the psychometric properties of the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) for validation of use in a clinical setting.

Methods: Data from both a clinical (319) and general population (319) samples of health care and social insurance workers were included in the study. Data were analysed using both classical and modern test theory approaches, including Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Rasch analysis.

Results: Of the 638 people recruited into the study 416 (65%) persons were working full or part time. Data from the SMBQ failed a CFA, and initially failed to satisfy Rasch model expectations. After the removal of 4 of the original items measuring tension, and accommodating local dependency in the data, model expectations were met. As such, the total score from the revised scale is a sufficient statistic for ascertaining burnout and an interval scale transformation is available. The scale as a whole was perfectly targeted to the joint sample. A cut point of 4.4 for severe burnout was chosen at the intersection of the distributions of the clinical and general population.

Conclusion: A revised 18 item version of the SMBQ satisfies modern measurement standards. Using its cut point it offers the opportunity to identify potential clinical cases of burnout.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / diagnosis*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Sweden