Understanding burnout according to individual differences: ongoing explanatory power evaluation of two models for measuring burnout types

BMC Public Health. 2012 Oct 30;12:922. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-922.


Background: The classic determination of burnout is by means of the dimensions exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. A new definition of the syndrome is based on clinical subtypes, consisting of "frenetic" (involved, ambitious, overloaded), "underchallenged" (indifferent, bored, with lack of personal development) and "worn-out" (neglectful, unacknowledged, with little control). The dimensions of overload, lack of development and neglect form a shortened version of this perspective. The aims of this study were to estimate and to compare the explanatory power of both typological models, short and long, with the standard measurement.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey with a randomly sample of university employees (n=409). Multivariate linear regression models were constructed between the "Maslach Burnout Inventory General Survey" (MBI-GS) dimensions, as dependent variables, and the "Burnout Clinical Subtype Questionnaire" (BCSQ-36 and BCSQ-12) dimensions, as independent variables.

Results: The BCSQ-36 subscales together explained 53% of 'exhaustion' (p<0.001), 59% of 'cynicism' (p<0.001) and 37% of 'efficacy' (p<0.001), while BCSQ-12 subscales explained 44% of 'exhaustion' (p<0.001), 44% of 'cynicism' (p<0.001), and 30% of 'efficacy' (p<0.001). The difference in the explanatory power of both models was significant for 'exhaustion' (p<0.001), and for 'cynicism' (p<0.001) and 'efficacy (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Both BCSQ-36 and BCSQ-12 demonstrate great explanatory power over the standard MBI-GS, while offering a useful characterization of the syndrome for the evaluation and design of interventions tailored to the characteristics of each individual. The BCSQ-36 may be very useful in mental health services, given that it provides a good deal of information, while the BCSQ-12 could be used as a screening measure in primary care consultations owing to its simplicity and functional nature.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Internet
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Universities