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Work-Related Determinants of Burnout in a Nationally Representative Sample of German Employees: Results From the Study on Mental Health at Work

Müller, Grit, PhD; Brendel, Bettina, PhD; Freude, Gabriele, PhD; Potter, Guy, PhD; Rose, Uwe, PhD; Burr, Hermann, PhD; Falkenstein, Michael, PhD; Martus, Peter, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 7 - p 584–588
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001328

Objective: The aim of the study was to present first representative data on burnout measured as exhaustion in German employees.

Methods: Data were taken from the Study on Mental Health at Work (n = 4058). Computer-assisted personal interviews were conducted in 2011 to 2012. Multiple linear regression models were estimated to investigate the association between work-related and personal variables and burnout.

Results: Severe burnout was detected in nearly 3% of employees. Job demands were associated with higher burnout scores, more resources with lower scores. Independent of personal factors, higher quantitative demands (men: regression coefficient [β] = 0.19; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.16 to 0.23; women: β = 0.24; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.27) was identified as the strongest predictor of burnout measured as exhaustion. The model explained 28% to 33% of the total variance.

Conclusions: Quantitative demands seem to be important risk factors for burnout independent of critical life events and general self-efficacy.

Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Dortmund, Germany (Dr Müller); Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Berlin, Germany (Dr Freude, Dr Rose, and Dr Burr); Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Applied Biostatistics, University Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany (Dr Brendel and Dr Martus); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC (Dr Potter); Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, Dortmund, Germany (Dr Falkenstein).

Address correspondence to: Grit Müller, PhD, Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Friedrich-Henkel-Weg 1-25, 44149 Dortmund, Germany (

This work was supported by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Germany.

Authors Müller, Brendel, Freude, Potter, Rose, Burr, Falkenstein, and Martus have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine