This prospective study was designed to test the extent to which the onset of type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy individuals was predicted by burnout, a unique affective response to combined exposure to chronic stressors.
The study participants were 677 employed men and women who were followed up for 3 to 5 years (mean = 3.6 years) for the onset of diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Burnout was assessed by the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure with its three subscales: emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness.
The burnout symptoms were remarkably consistent over the follow-up period irrespective of changes in place of work and in employment status. During the follow-up period, 17 workers developed type 2 diabetes. Logistic regression results indicated that burnout was associated with a 1.84-fold increased risk of diabetes (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.19–2.85) even after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, leisure time physical activity, initial job category, and follow-up duration. In a subsample of 507 workers, the relative risk of diabetes was found to be much higher after additional control for blood pressure levels (odds ratio = 4.32, 95% CI = 1.75–10.67), available only for this subsample.
These findings suggest that chronic burnout might be a risk factor for the onset of type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy individuals.
CI = confidence interval;
CVD = cardiovascular disease;
SMBM = Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure;
HbA1c = glycosylated hemoglobin A1c;
VE = vital exhaustion;
MI = myocardial infarction;
MBI = Maslach Burnout Inventory;
BMI = body mass index;
SBP = systolic blood pressure;
DBP = diastolic blood pressure;
OR = odds ratio;
APR = acute phase response;
CRP = C-reactive protein;
HDL = high-density lipoprotein;
HPA = hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal.