Maslach, C., University of California, USA
Stress has long been recognized as a cause of poor health. Workplace stressors have been studied in terms of their health outcomes, so there is a clear theoretical basis for proposing that job burnout, as a form of job stress, should have implications for health. Job burnout is defined in terms of three dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. The exhaustion dimension is the closest to an orthodox stress variable, so it is no surprise that a consistent finding in burnout research is the correlation between the exhaustion component and various physical symptoms of stress. However, beyond this finding, there has been little systematic theorizing or research on burnout and health. In some cases, there has been an absence of relevant work; in others, there has been a presence of conflicting perspectives and definitions. A review and analysis of the current literature points to the importance of the distinctions between different conceptualizations of health: physical, mental, organizational, and epidemiological. The significance of burnout is not so much as an end- state in itself, but in its role as a mediator of other important outcomes. However, job outcomes, such as behaviors that affect the quality of work, may be more important than health outcomes as the critical bottom line for burnout.