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Burnout

Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. The symptoms of burnout are similar to those of clinical depression.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: Wikipedia)

About Burnout Syndrome

Having a "burnout" seems to have become a mass phenomenon receiving constant media attention. More and more people are missing work due to "burnout syndrome." But is this set of symptoms a clearly-defined illness? What is the difference between burnout and depression? Many questions remain unanswered.

The term "burnout" was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals experienced by people working in "helping" professions. Doctors and nurses, for example, who sacrifice themselves for others, would often end up being "burned out" — exhausted, listless, and unable to cope.

Nowadays, the term is not only used for these helping professions, or for the dark side of self-sacrifice. It seems it can affect anyone, from stressed-out careerists and celebrities to over-worked employees and homemakers. "Burnout" has become a popular term.

It is surprising then that there is no clear definition of what burnout really is. And the lack of a definition has consequences. Because it is not clear what burnout is and how it can be diagnosed, it is impossible to say how common it is... Read more about Burnout

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Occupational Exposures and Symptoms of Depression and Burnout [Internet]

[Preventing burnout? A systematic review of effectiveness of individual and combined approaches]

Burnout has become an increasing topic of discussion in recent years. Against this background, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention programs aimed at preventing burnout. Using the databases Medline, PsycINFO, and PSYNDEX, we conducted a systematic search of burnout intervention studies from 1995-2011, completing this by a hand search. A total of 33 primary intervention studies (34 publications) were identified and reviewed. Twenty-four (71%) were person-centered interventions, while 10 (29%) were combined individual and organizational interventions. Of the interventions, 76% had a positive effect on burnout or its subcomponents; 16% of the studies were followed for periods ranging from more than 12 months to 3 years. In three of these studies, the intervention had a positive effect on burnout outcome measures. Burnout intervention programs tend to be effective, and their effects can be enhanced in refresher courses. Future research should focus on combined (person-centered and organization-based) intervention programs, include different risk groups, and provide long-term follow-up.

Psychosocial interventions to prevent psychological problems in police officers

People working in law enforcement are subject to many things that can act as work stressors. These include aspects of their job that are linked to operational factors (job content) and aspects that are linked to organizational factors (job context). A wide variety of interventions are used to try to prevent psychological disorders in law enforcement officers. In view of the importance of the functions performed by law enforcement officers, and the fact that there is no definitive approach to deal with psychological problems they may develop, a systematic review of the evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in preventing these problems in this select population. We found ten randomised trials, but not of all these contributed useful data for this review and quantitative meta‐analyses were not possible. No data on adverse effects were available. The available evidence is, therefore, limited to the analysis of single, small and low quality trials. This suggests that police officers may benefit from psychosocial interventions in terms of psychological symptoms and physical symptoms. Further well‐designed trials of psychosocial interventions to enhance the psychological health of police officers are required. Trials of organisation‐based interventions are also needed.

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Summaries for consumers

Depression: What is burnout?

“Burnout” seems to have become a mass phenomenon, receiving constant media attention. More and more people are missing work due to burnout. But is this set of symptoms a clearly-defined illness? How is burnout different from depression? Many questions haven’t been answered yet. The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in “helping” professions. Doctors and nurses, for example, who sacrifice themselves for others, would often end up being “burned out” – exhausted, listless, and unable to cope. Nowadays, the term is not only used for these helping professions, or for the dark side of self-sacrifice. It seems it can affect anyone, from stressed-out careerists and celebrities to overworked employees and homemakers. Surprisingly, there is no clear definition of what burnout really is. As a result, it’s not clear what burnout is exactly and how it can be diagnosed. This also makes it impossible to say how common it is. Various figures appear in the press; some German health insurance companies say that up to nine million people are affected in Germany. These figures should, however, be met with caution: There are no reliable scientific data about how many people have burnout in Germany.

Psychosocial interventions to prevent psychological problems in police officers

People working in law enforcement are subject to many things that can act as work stressors. These include aspects of their job that are linked to operational factors (job content) and aspects that are linked to organizational factors (job context). A wide variety of interventions are used to try to prevent psychological disorders in law enforcement officers. In view of the importance of the functions performed by law enforcement officers, and the fact that there is no definitive approach to deal with psychological problems they may develop, a systematic review of the evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in preventing these problems in this select population. We found ten randomised trials, but not of all these contributed useful data for this review and quantitative meta‐analyses were not possible. No data on adverse effects were available. The available evidence is, therefore, limited to the analysis of single, small and low quality trials. This suggests that police officers may benefit from psychosocial interventions in terms of psychological symptoms and physical symptoms. Further well‐designed trials of psychosocial interventions to enhance the psychological health of police officers are required. Trials of organisation‐based interventions are also needed.

Do courses aimed at improving the way healthcare professionals communicate with people who have cancer impact on their physical and mental health?

The aim of this Cochrane review was to find out if communication skills training (CST) for healthcare professionals working with people who have cancer has an impact on how healthcare professionals communicate and on the physical and mental health of the patients.

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More about Burnout

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Also called: Burned out, Burnout syndrome

See Also: Depression

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