Demographic and work-related correlates of job burnout in professional eating disorder treatment providers

Psychotherapy (Chic). 2013 Dec;50(4):553-64. doi: 10.1037/a0028783. Epub 2013 Jun 24.


Patients with eating disorders present unique challenges to treatment providers that may contribute to job burnout. This study examined demographic and work-related correlates of three primary components of burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and lack of personal accomplishment) in a sample of 296 professional eating disorder treatment providers. Participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS; Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996), demographics, and a questionnaire developed by the authors measuring eating disorder-specific factors theorized to be relevant to burnout. Overall, participants reported comparable levels of emotional exhaustion but significantly less cynicism and lack of personal accomplishment relative to established norms for mental health care providers on the MBI-HSS. Analyses of variance and backward regression analyses suggested that higher levels of burnout were associated with being younger, female, and overweight; working longer hours; having less experience; and experiencing a patient's death. Conversely, working in a private practice setting, having children, and having a personal history of an eating disorder were associated with lower burnout levels. Furthermore, over 45% of participants reported that treatment resistance, ego-syntonicity, high relapse rates, worry about patient survival, emotional drain, lack of appropriate financial reimbursement, and extra hours spent working contributed to feelings burned out somewhat to very much. Overall, these data suggest that emotional exhaustion is the most common aspect of burnout experienced by eating disorder treatment providers and highlight some of the key correlates of burnout for this population, which can be used to inform prevention and intervention efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data
  • Demography / methods
  • Demography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight
  • Private Practice
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload / psychology
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data