Understanding the Relationship between Situational Strength and Burnout: A Multi-Sample Analysis

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec 28;18(1):162. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18010162.


Many studies have examined the effect of situational strength (clarity, consistency, constraints, and consequences) on organisational behaviour, but little has been investigated about its health effects. This study aimed to analyse the relationship between situational strength and burnout. Specifically, we examined whether situational strength characteristics may be associated with burnout, whether these characteristics are risk (or protective) factors for burnout, and whether a strong situation is related to higher levels of burnout. Examining three samples from different occupations, it was found that clarity and consistency are negatively associated with burnout, being protective factors, while constraints are positively associated with burnout, being risk factors. These results are consistent across the samples. In addition to the direct effects, interaction effects between clarity and consistency in the office employee's sample (two-way interaction), between constraints and consequences in the samples of office employees and teachers (two-way interaction), and among clarity, consistency, and constraints in the salespeople's sample (three-way interaction) were also significant, explaining from 20% to 33% of the variance of burnout. We concluded that situational strength is associated not only with behaviour but also with health. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: burnout; clarity; consequences; consistency; constraints; situational strength.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Occupations
  • Organizational Culture*