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J Int Med Res. 2018 Aug;46(8):3226-3235. doi: 10.1177/0300060518775003. Epub 2018 May 29.

Job-related burnout is associated with brain neurotransmitter levels in Chinese medical workers: a cross-sectional study.

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1 Xinxiang Medical University, Xinxiang, China, School of Public Health, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Xinxiang, China.
2 Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Zhengzhou, China.
3 Zhengzhou Hospital for Occupational Diseases, Zhengzhou, China.
4 Yale University, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT, USA.
5 Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, School of Medicine, Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, CT, USA.


Objective The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between job burnout and neurotransmitter levels in medical staff. Methods A total of 80 medical staff were enrolled in the study and assessed for occupational burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey (MBI-GS). The levels of neurotransmitters in the cerebral cortex were analysed using an SP03 encephalofluctuograph. Results The levels of the neurotransmitters γ-aminobutyric acid, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), norepinephrine (NE), glutamate, acetylcholine (Achl) and dopamine (DA) were significantly lower in men than in women. Medical staff with lower levels of exhaustion had significantly higher neurotransmitter levels than staff with moderate levels of exhaustion. However, there was no significant interaction between sex and exhaustion on neurotransmitter levels. Canonical correlation showed that exhaustion was positively associated with 5-HT and DA, but negatively associated with NE and Achl, regardless of age and sex. Conclusion Neurotransmitter levels in the cerebral cortex were associated with job-related burnout in medical staff. The findings suggest that long-term job-related burnout may lead to behavioural and psychiatric disorders.


5-hydroxytryptamine; Burnout; canonical correlation analysis; dopamine; medical staff; neurotransmitters

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