Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 39: Does Burnout Affect Physical Health? A Review of the Evidence
39 Does burnout aﬀect physical health? A review of the evidence Arie Shirom and Samuel Melamed Burnout has received increased research attention in recent years. During the period 1995–2002, annually about 150 articles that concerned burnout appeared in journals covered by PsychInfo. As is evident, burnout has been a major focus of researchers’ eﬀorts. A recent review of the area of burnout (Schaufeli and Enzmann, 1998) found about 5500 entries with ‘burnout’ as a key word between 1975 and 1995. Notwithstanding this large number of studies, the relationships between burnout and physical health, including physiological risk factors and physical disease states, have hardly been explored. The literature on burnout and well-being or mental health is substantial, but has not been reviewed with suﬃcient attention to the instruments used to gauge burnout and their respective construct validity. The objectives of this chapter are to review current knowledge on the above issues and to provide a perspective on future directions of research into burnout–health linkages. We start out by discussing the conceptual meaning of burnout. Burnout is viewed as an aﬀective reaction to ongoing stress. We contend that core content of this aﬀective reaction is the gradual depletion over time of individuals’ intrinsic energetic resources, leading to feelings of emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue and cognitive weariness (Shirom, 1989). Given the multidimensionality of the construct and the controversy over its operational deﬁnition (Maslach et al., 2001), this conceptual analysis is essential for understanding the possible...
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