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Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Feb;265(1):27-34. doi: 10.1007/s00406-014-0549-x. Epub 2014 Oct 9.

Emotional information processing in depression and burnout: an eye-tracking study.

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Laboratory of Psychology (EA 3188), University of Franche-Comté, Besançon, France,


Whether burnout is a form of depression is unclear. The aim of this study was to examine the relevance of the burnout-depression distinction by comparing attentional processing of emotional information in burnout and depression. Eye-tracking technology was employed for assessing overt attentional deployment. The gaze of 54 human services employees was monitored as they freely viewed a series of emotional images, labeled as dysphoric, positive, anxiogenic, and neutral. Similar to depression, burnout was associated with increased attention for dysphoric stimuli and decreased attention for positive stimuli. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that burnout no longer predicted these attentional alterations when depression was controlled for and vice versa, suggesting interchangeability of the two entities in this matter. To our knowledge, this study is the first to (a) investigate emotional attention in burnout and (b) address the issue of the burnout-depression overlap at both cognitive and behavioral levels using eye movement measurement. Overall, our findings point to structural similarities between burnout and depression, thus deepening concerns regarding the singularity of the burnout phenomenon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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