Connectivity between burnout dimensions is stronger for people who experience chronic stress - A network approach to psychopathology

Scriptie/Masterproef: Master's Thesis


Scholars agree that chronic stress and burnout are related (Bayes et al., 2021; Maslach et al., 2001; Toker & Melamed, 2017) but primarily studied the impact of chronic stress on burnout, while overlooking the possible impact of chronic stress on the interaction of burnout dimensions. We want to fill this gap and hypothesize that individuals with high chronic stress show stronger connectivity between burnout dimensions. This hypothesis is derived from the network perspective, which states that symptoms can have a contagious effect on each other, and stronger connections and higher symptom activation are linked to negative health outcomes (Robinaugh et al., 2020).
We conducted a survey (n=451; working individuals) and assessed chronic stress (Perceived Stress Scale-10, Cohen et al., 1983) and burnout (Burnout Assessment Tool, Schaufeli et al., 2019; 4-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire, Terluin, 1996). We notice positive relationships (p <.01) between chronic stress and all of the burnout dimensions (exhaustion, mental distance, emotional impairment, cognitive impairment, psychosomatic complaints and psychological distress). We created low and high stress groups based on the norms of the PSS-10 and found a significant difference in centrality (S= 1.121, p= 0), and comparability in the weight of the edges (M= .22, p= .189). However, this effect could not be reproduced in the other analyses.
The three most central elements in all of the created networks are mental distance, exhaustion and psychological distress. This implies that prevention and intervention strategies should focus on these dimensions. Additionally, this study offers a contribution to the definition of burnout and the elements that should be included in it.
In summary, we showed that network analysis is promising and has clinical relevance. We hope that more studies will contribute to this domain to further unravel this relatively new approach.
Datum prijs2023
Originele taalEnglish
BegeleiderTim Vantilborgh (Promotor) & Valentina Sagmeister (Co-promotor)

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