Gendered Pathways to Burnout: Results from the SALVEO Study

Ann Work Expo Health. 2018 Apr 18;62(4):426-437. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxx114.


Aim: Burnout is a pervasive mental health problem in the workforce, with mounting evidence suggesting ties with occupational and safety outcomes such as work injuries, critical events and musculoskeletal disorders. While environmental [work and non-work, work-to-family conflict (WFC)] and individual (personality) pathways to burnout are well documented, little is known about how gender comes to influence such associative patterns. The aim of the study consisted in examining gendered pathways to burnout.

Methods: Data were derived from the SALVEO study, a cross-sectional study of 2026 workers from 63 workplaces from the province of Québec (Canada). Data were analyzed using multilevel path analysis.

Results: Direct effects of gendered pathways were evidenced for work (e.g. decision latitude) and non-work (e.g. child-related strains) environmental pathways, as well as for individual pathways (i.e. internal locus of control). Indirect effects of gendered pathways were also evidenced, with women reporting higher levels of burnout compared to men due to lower levels of decision latitude and of self-esteem, as well as higher levels of WFC. Women also reported lower burnout levels through investing more time into domestic tasks, which could represent a recovery strategy to highly demanding work. WFC further mediated the associations between working hours and burnout, as well as the between irregular work schedules and burnout. These result suggest than men distinctively reported higher levels of burnout due to the specific nature of their work contract negatively impacting on WFC, and incidentally, on their mental health.

Conclusion: Study results supported our hypotheses positing that gender distinctively shapes environmental and individual pathways to burnout. OHS prevention efforts striving for better mental health outcomes in the workforce could relevantly be informed by a gendered approach to burnout.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Quebec
  • Sex Factors
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Young Adult