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Croat Med J. 2010 Oct;51(5):432-42.

Emotion work and burnout: cross-sectional study of nurses and physicians in Hungary.

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  • 1Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.



To investigate predictors of occupational burnout, such as emotion work, among health care workers and compare the frequencies of burnout and emotion work in nurses and physicians.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2007 and 2008 among 80 physicians and 76 nurses working in a variety of health care settings in Hungary. The survey contained sociodemographic questions and work- and health-related questions from, respectively, the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey and the Hungarian version of the Frankfurt Emotion Work Scale. To identify the dimensions of emotion work associated with burnout, linear regression analyses were carried out. To analyze differences in burnout and emotion work between nurses and physicians, independent t tests were used.


Nurses reported significantly higher emotional dissonance and fewer regulation possibilities, such as interaction and emotion control, than physicians. However, no differences were found in the level or frequency of burnout. Nurses had fewer regulation requirements regarding sensitivity and sympathy. Linear regression analyses showed that emotional dissonance for emotional exhaustion (β=0.401) and display of negative emotions for depersonalization (β=0.332) were the strongest predictors of burnout.


The factors that should be taken into account when developing prevention and intervention programs differ for nurses and physicians. In nurses, the focus should be on stressors and emotional dissonance, while in physicians it should be on work requirements and display and regulation of negative emotions.

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