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Association between transformational leadership and occupational burnout and the mediating effects of psychological empowerment in this relationship among CDC employees: a cross-sectional study

Authors Liu C, Liu S, Yang S, Wu H

Received 24 February 2019

Accepted for publication 17 May 2019

Published 24 June 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 437—446


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Mei-chun Cheung

Chunli Liu,1 Siqi Liu,2 Shihan Yang,2 Hui Wu2

1College of Medical Information, China Medical University, Shenyang 110122, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, China Medical University, Shenyang 110122, People’s Republic of China

Purpose: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is playing a vital role in protecting public health and safety. However, few studies have researched on the occupational burnout of CDC employees in the world. Previous studies have reported that transformational leadership could improve the level of psychological empowerment and ameliorate burnout of the employees. In this study, we aimed to analyze the association between transformational leadership and burnout and to test the mediating role of psychological empowerment in this relationship among CDC employees in China.
Methods: Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Service Survey, Transformational Leadership Questionnaire, and Psychological Empowerment Scale were used to measure burnout, transformational leadership, and psychological empowerment. A total of 385 CDC employees (effective response rate: 96.25%) were included in the study. We analyzed the association between transformational leadership and three subscales of burnout with hierarchical linear regression analyses. The mediating role of psychological empowerment was finally examined by asymptotic and resampling strategies.
Results: Transformational leadership was negatively associated with emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment after controlling sociodemographic and working context characteristics. Transformational leadership and psychological empowerment, respectively, accounted for 9.3% and 12.3% of the variance in emotional exhaustion; 8.5% and 16.7% of the variance in depersonalization; and 6.7% and 10.0% of the variance in reduced personal accomplishment. We found that psychological empowerment played a partially mediating role on the relationship between transformational leadership and burnout. The proportion of psychological empowerment’s mediating effect was 41.56% for emotional exhaustion, 50.62% for depersonalization, and 44.32% for reduced personal accomplishment.
Conclusions: It was suggested that transformational leadership could decrease the risk of burnout by the pathway of promoting the employee’s psychological empowerment. Interventions focusing on transformational leadership and psychological empowerment should be of significance to cut burnout.

Keywords: burnout, transformational leadership, psychological empowerment, CDC

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