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Psychosocial Work Characteristics as Predictors for Burnout: Findings From 3-Year Follow Up of the PUMA Study

Borritz, Marianne MD; Bültmann, Ute PhD; Rugulies, Reiner PhD; Christensen, Karl Bang PhD; Villadsen, Ebbe; Kristensen, Tage S. DrMedSci

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 10 - p 1015-1025
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000175155.50789.98
Original Articles

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of psychosocial work characteristics on burnout.

Methods: A total of 1772 participants in different human service sector organizations were eligible for the cross-sectional analyses (baseline) and 952 for the prospective analyses. We measured 14 psychosocial work characteristics and three types of burnout. Linear regression models were used for analyzing associations between psychosocial work characteristics at baseline and burnout at baseline and at 3 years of follow up.

Results: Low possibilities for development, high meaning of work, low predictability, high quality of leadership, low role clarity, and high role conflicts predicted burnout at 3 years of follow up after the psychosocial work characteristics were adjusted for each other, potential confounders, and burnout level at baseline.

Conclusion: Psychosocial work characteristics were prospectively associated with burnout, suggesting that improving the psychosocial work environment may reduce future burnout in human service work.

From the National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark (Dr Borritz, Dr Bültmann, Dr Rugulies, Dr Christensen, Mr Villadsen, Dr Kristensen); and the Department of Occupational Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark (Dr Borritz).

Marianne Borritz has no financial interest related to this article.

Address correspondence to: Marianne Borritz, MD, National Institute of Occupational Health, Denmark, Lersoe Parkallé 105, DK-2100 Copenhagen O, Denmark; E-mail:

©2005The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine