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Contribution of Burnout to the Association Between Job Strain and Depression: the Health 2000 Study

Ahola, Kirsi MA; Honkonen, Teija PhD, MD; Kivimäki, Mika PhD; Virtanen, Marianna PhD; Isometsä, Erkki PhD, MD; Aromaa, Arpo PhD, MD; Lönnqvist, Jouko PhD, MD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: October 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 10 - pp 1023-1030
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000237437.84513.92
Original Articles

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of burnout to the association between job strain and depression.

Methods: A representative sample of 3270 Finnish employees aged 30 to 64 years responded to the Maslach Burnout Inventory–General Survey and the Beck Depression Inventory and participated in the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

Results: High strain compared with low strain was associated with 7.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.6–9.7) times higher odds of burnout, 3.8 (95% CI = 2.8–5.1) times higher odds of depressive symptoms, and 1.7 (95% CI = 1.1–2.6) times higher odds of depressive disorders. The risk for depressive symptoms and for depressive disorders of high strain was reduced by 69% or more after adjusting for burnout.

Conclusion: Burnout is strongly related to job strain and may in part mediate the association between job strain and depression.

From the Centre of Expertise for Work Organizations (Ms Ahola, Dr Honkonen, Dr Kivimäki, Dr Virtanen), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland; the Department of Psychology (Dr Kivimäki), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; the Department of Psychiatry (Dr Isometsä), Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland; the Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research (Dr Isometsä, Dr Lönnqvist), National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland; and the Department of Health and Functional Capacity (Dr Aromaa), National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.

CME Available for this Article at ACOEM.org

Kirsi Ahola has no commercial interest related to this article.

Address correspondence to: Kirsi Ahola, MA, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FI-00250 Helsinki, Finland; E-mail: kirsi.ahola@ttl.fi.

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine