Background: Burnout occurs when professionals use ineffective coping strategies to try to protect themselves from work-related stress. The dimensions of 'overload', 'lack of development' and 'neglect', belonging to the 'frenetic', 'under-challenged' and 'worn-out' subtypes, respectively, comprise a brief typological definition of burnout. The aim of the present study was to estimate the explanatory power of the different coping strategies on the development of burnout subtypes.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey with a random sample of university employees, stratified by occupation (n = 429). Multivariate linear regression models were constructed between the 'Burnout Clinical Subtypes Questionnaire', with its three dimensions -overload, lack of development and neglect- as dependent variables, and the 'Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences', with its fifteen dimensions, as independent variables. Adjusted multiple determination coefficients and beta coefficients were calculated to evaluate and compare the explanatory capacity of the different coping strategies.
Results: The 'Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences' subscales together explained 15% of the 'overload' (p<0.001), 9% of the 'lack of development' (p<0.001), and 21% of the 'neglect' (p<0.001). 'Overload' was mainly explained by 'venting of emotions' (Beta = 0.34; p<0.001); 'lack of development' by 'cognitive avoidance' (Beta = 0.21; p<0.001); and 'neglect' by 'behavioural disengagement' (Beta = 0.40; p<0.001). Other interesting associations were observed.
Conclusions: These findings further our understanding of the way in which the effectiveness of interventions for burnout may be improved, by influencing new treatments and preventive programmes using features of the strategies for handling stress in the workplace.