As defined by Maslach, burnout is a syndrome characterized by high levels of emotional exhaustion, high levels of client depersonalization, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. Research on burnout, however, has typically studied these three components as separate continuous dimensions – for example, examining predictors of emotional exhaustion or predictors of depersonalization.
Our previous research on burnout has followed in this tradition and has yielded considerable information about factors that relate to higher levels of emotional exhaustion, to greater depersonalization, and to lower levels of personal accomplishment. We have paid particular attention to emotional exhaustion which is often considered the key feature of burnout. In this regard, we have consistently found that work demands such as negative client behaviors are linked to emotional exhaustion; that is, having to deal with more negative client behaviors relates to more emotional exhaustion. In contrast, resources like control at work relate to lower levels of exhaustion.
Although we have some insight into factors that relate to each dimension of burnout, we know little about burnout as a syndrome. This project examines burnout as a syndrome. Using data from three of our national surveys, we are using cluster analysis to examine how the three dimensions of burnout co-occur in practicing psychologists.