New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 34: Burnout and Wornout: Concepts and Data from a National Survey
Lennart Hallsten Introduction In recent years, burnout has attracted wide attention both in research and in the mass media. The concept ‘burnout’ is not new, however, and it has been applied in research for nearly 30 years. At ﬁrst, burnout was met with skepticism, but with the establishment of standardized instruments (Maslach and Jackson, 1981; Pines et al., 1981) and welldesigned studies, the concept has won wider acceptance. Numerous papers and books, around 6000 (Schaufeli and Enzmann, 1998), have been published on this topic. Another reason for the growing interest is that the concept may serve as an expressive metaphor for facets of the changed ill-health panorama in Western countries. Some decades ago, industrial mental health problems typically referred to monotony, isolation, meaninglessness and lack of commitment, but with the changes in work intensity and content, in professionalization and in management and supervision strategies, the illhealth character also appears to be altered. Work assignments are nowadays often perceived as more meaningful and evolving, but they entail hazards of cognitive and emotional overload rather than underload, which may result in fatigue, exhaustion and in feelings of ineﬃciency and depression. Concerns about serious clinical consequences of burnout have been articulated in Sweden, and the label ‘burnout’ has been used as a diagnosis in medical certiﬁcates. People with stress-related exhaustion symptoms have also been found at risk for very long sickness absences (National Social Insurance Board, 2002). Some Swedish data from national work environment surveys and surveys on workrelated ill-health are...
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