Background: Psychosocial risk assessment can only be effective as an instrument if the predictors of relevant health variables are known and it has been shown that favorable changes in working conditions are accompanied by equivalent changes in these health variables.
Objective: Using burnout as an example, a longitudinal analysis was carried out to determine whether changes in working conditions lead to changes in burnout.
Material and methods: In the "Study of Mental Health at Work (S-MGA)", psychosocial work conditions were assessed with the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ), and burnout with the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI). Data from employees participating in both waves (n = 2005) were combined to form a longitudinal data set. To evaluate the impact of change in COPSOQ scores over the 5‑year observation period on the burnout score, regression models were fitted with COPSOQ difference variables and COPSOQ baseline scores, accounting for possible confounders.
Results: The regression models showed significant effects in the expected directions: a high baseline value and an increasing difference score for demands lead to an increase in the burnout score and for resources to a decrease. The amount of work showed the strongest effects in all models, also when adjusting for all COPSOQ scales simultaneously. In addition, job insecurity always showed significant effects. The situation was different for resources, for which significant effects can be demonstrated when considered individually in the model, but which decline and in part lose their significance when the COPSOQ scales are adjusted for each other, due to their high pairwise correlations.
Conclusion: The analysis showed that over a 5-year period, the burnout score depends both on baseline levels of demands and resources as well as their changes, i.e. declining scores in demands and rising scores in resources lead to declining burnout scores. Consequently, measures of work design that consider these working conditions should lead to a decrease in burnout.
This article is published in the Journal "Zentralblatt für Arbeitsmedizin, Arbeitsschutz und Ergonomie" (2022).
Please download the article "Psychosocial working conditions and burnout in the longitudinal 'Study of Mental Health at Work (S‑MGA)'" (in German only).
First Online: 29 September 2021
N. Kersten, M. Formazin:
Psychosoziale Arbeitsbedingungen und Burnout im Längsschnitt der "Studie zur mentalen Gesundheit bei der Arbeit (S-MGA)" - Implikationen für den Arbeitsschutz.
in: Zentralblatt für Arbeitsmedizin, Arbeitsschutz und Ergonomie, Volume 72, Issue 1 2022. pages 1-12, Project number: F 2460, DOI: 10.1007/s40664-021-00444-8
© Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health