Crossover of exhaustion between dentists and dental nurses

Stress Health. 2014 Apr;30(2):110-21. doi: 10.1002/smi.2498. Epub 2013 May 30.


The aim of this study was to investigate the conditions under which job-related exhaustion may transmit (cross over) from dentists to dental nurses and vice versa. We conducted a cross-sectional survey study among 470 Finnish dentist-dental nurse dyads and used moderated structural equation modelling analyses. We found no support for the direct crossover of exhaustion from one work partner to the other. Instead, we found that exhaustion transferred from dentists to dental nurses only when collaboration was frequent and dental nurses perceived the collaboration as friendly or consisting of mutual feedback. In contrast, dentists were not affected by dental nurses' exhaustion. These results indicate that exhaustion can be contagious in work dyads and may be fuelled by positive and frequent interpersonal relationships when the partner who is higher in the hierarchy has high (versus low) levels of exhaustion. Thus, interpersonal and hierarchical relationships among work partners may play an important role in the crossover process. Limitations and implications are mentioned.

Keywords: burnout; cooperative behaviour; crossover; dentistry; exhaustion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Assistants / psychology*
  • Dental Assistants / statistics & numerical data
  • Dentists / psychology*
  • Dentists / statistics & numerical data
  • Empathy
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Hierarchy, Social
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Psychological Theory