Job burnout and job wornout as risk factors for long-term sickness absence


Objective: Contingent self-esteem has been assumed to be a risk for burnout-related disorders, and a contingent self-worth notion of job burnout was applied to study the prospective relationship between job burnout and registered episodes of sickness absence of ? 60 consecutive days. Methods: Job burnout was defined as being in the high quartiles on the Maslach Burnout Inventory – General Survey (MBI-GS) scales of exhaustion and cynicism and, in addition, as being above the median on a scale for performance-based self-esteem. Another high exhaustion-cynicism group, a "job wornout" group, was defined as being high on the same MBI-GS scales but having performance-based self-esteem scores below the median. Data were analyzed by a multivariate, logistic regression approach. Participants: 4,109 public employees in Sweden. Results: The job burnout group showed an over-risk of long-term sickness absence incidence, both compared with a low exhaustion-cynicism reference group and with the job wornout group after adjustment for several potential confounders. No association with incidence of long-term sickness absence was found for the job wornout group. Conclusions: The differential vulnerability to long-term sickness absence among high exhaustion-cynicism groups suggests that a self-worth perspective of job burnout can be advantageous for prevention of the costly long-term sickness absences.


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