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Research Companion to Organizational Health Psychology

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

This timely Research Companion is essential reading to advance the understanding of healthy behaviours within working environments and to identify problems which can be the cause of illness. Containing both theoretical and empirical contributions written by distinguished academics working in Europe, North America and Australia, the book covers leading edge topics ranging from current theories of stress, stress management, and stress in specific occupational groups, such as doctors and teachers, to the relationship of stress with well-being. It provides systematic approaches towards practical actions and stress interventions in working environments and a solid theoretical framework for future research. It will be an essential companion to research on psychology and medicine as well as stress.
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Chapter 34: Burnout and Wornout: Concepts and Data from a National Survey

Lennart Hallsten


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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