Is Burnout a Distinct Syndrome? a Study of the Intertwining of Burnout, Anxiety, and Depression
R. Bianchi1, I.S. Schonfeld2, D. Truchot1, E. Laurent1
1University of Franche-Comté, France
2The City College of the City University of New York, United States of America
Background. Burnout is usually defined as a combination of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment (RPA). Our aim was to examine the intertwining of burnout with anxiety and depression. Methods. This study included 5575 teachers. The Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to assess burnout. Depression was assessed with the 9-item depression-dedicated module of the Patient Health Questionnaire and anxiety with the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale. Findings. Emotional exhaustion, the core of burnout, was more strongly associated with (job-unrelated) anxiety (r = .68) and depression (r = .72) than with (job-related) depersonalization (r = .53) and RPA (r = .35), all ps < .001. When combining emotional exhaustion and depression into a single scale (18 items), a Cronbach’s alpha of .91 was reached (mean between-item correlation (MBIC): .39). When combining emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and RPA into a single scale (22 items), a Cronbach’s alpha of .72 was reached (MBIC: .11). Discussion. This study confirms the ambiguous conceptual status of burnout and questions the dimensions that have been selected to define it as a syndrome.