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Somatic symptoms in burnout in a general adult population 2023 Hammarström et al

Discussion in 'Other psychosomatic news and research' started by Andy, Mar 18, 2023.

  1. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

    Hampshire, UK

    • Fatigue, pain and gastrointestinal symptoms are particularly common in burnout.
    • These symptoms show 2- to 9-fold increased risk when adjusted for negative affect
    • The risk of burnout increases 1.52 times with each additional symptom



    Burnout results in individual suffering and high societal costs, and is associated with somatic symptoms, anxiety and depression, calling for prevention by early identification. The objectives were to (i) determine prevalence of specific somatic symptoms in burnout, (ii) identify the symptoms, referred to as somatic symptoms of burnout (SS-B), that are particularly associated with burnout, (iii) determine their extent of association with burnout, and (iv) determine how well a certain number of SS-B differentiates participants with and without burnout in a general Swedish adult population.

    Cross-sectional, population-based data were used from 687 participants high on burnout, and 2544 referents based on the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Questionnaire. The Patient Health Questionnaire 15-item Somatic Symptom Severity Scale was used to assess common somatization symptoms, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess anxiety and depression.

    Feeling tired/having low energy, back pain, joint/limb pain, trouble sleeping, headaches, stomach pain, nausea/gas/indigestion, and constipation/loose bowels/diarrhea were most prevalent in burnout (57.2–95.0%). These symptoms, except for joint/limb pain, and dizziness, were also identified as the SS-B, with odds ratios of 2.34–12.74 and 1.95–9.11 when adjusted for background variables, and for anxiety and depression, respectively. Corresponding odds ratios for each additional number of SS-B were 1.69 and 1.52, respectively. The highest balanced accuracy (71.6%) for predicting burnout was found for ≥4 SS-B.

    Fatigue, pain and gastrointestinal symptoms are particularly common in burnout. Further studies may show whether clinicians should consider screening for burnout when patients present with SS-B without pathophysiological explanations.

    Open access, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399923000739
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  2. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

    Hampshire, UK
    "Among the 3406 participants, 175 were excluded due to having responded to less than half of the items on the SMBQ, PHQ-15 and/or HADS, resulting in a study sample of 3231 participants. Of these, 687 met the criterion for burnout (global SMBQ score ≥ 3.75), and the remaining 2544 participants constituted referents. The two samples are described in Table 1. The burnout sample was significantly younger than the referents, and consisted to a larger extent of participants who were women, not married/living with a partner, having children, and not exercising ≥2 times/week. The burnout sample also rated their health as poorer, scored higher on the PSS-10, was more likely to have reported being given a diagnosis of SED, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome, and scored higher on all SMBQ subscales and on the HADS-A and HADS-D. The samples did not differ in prevalence of university education, smoking or hypertension."
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  3. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    Aotearoa New Zealand
    What came first? The feeling of being overwhelmed with work causes the physical symptoms? Or the physical symptoms reduces the capacity to cope with a high workload?

    All the usual problems with the measures of depression and anxiety i.e. feeling tired and having low energy and sleep difficulties contributes to a positive score on these scales, which then makes it unsurprising that the presence of these symptoms is correlated with depression and anxiety scores. Also, having the symptoms and not coping at work can make people feel sad and worried.
  4. CRG

    CRG Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure (SMBM)

    How Do You Feel at Work?
    1. I feel tired
    2. I have no energy for going to work in the morning
    3. I feel physically drained
    4. I feel fed up
    5. I feel like my “batteries” are “dead”
    6. I feel burned out
    7. My thinking process is slow
    8. I have difficulty concentrating
    9. I feel I’m not thinking clearly
    10.10. I feel I’m not focused in my thinking
    11.I have difficulty thinking about complex things
    12.I feel I am unable to be sensitive to the needs of coworkers and customers
    13.I feel I am not capable of investing emotionally in coworkers and customers
    14.I feel I am not capable of being sympathetic to co-workers and customers
    physical fatigue; emotional exhaustion; and cognitive weariness
    1= Never or almost never‚ 2= Very infrequently‚ 3= Quite infrequently‚ 4= Sometimes Quite‚ 5= frequently Very‚ 6= frequently‚ 7=Always or almost always
    physical fatigue (1-5); emotional exhaustion (6-8); and cognitive weariness (9-12)

    burned out = BURNED OUT

    adj. that which denotes physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Historically, it also describes patients who become withdrawn and apathetic, slowly deteriorating in condition and losing their sense of reality to chronic schizophrenia.

    BURNED OUT: “It is long-term, non-stop stress which leads to the condition of being burned out.”
  5. Sean

    Sean Senior Member (Voting Rights)


    What are the causal relationships?
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