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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 39: Does Burnout Affect Physical Health? A Review of the Evidence

Arie Shirom and Samuel Melamed


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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