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Burnout as a State: Random-Intercept Cross-Lagged Relationship Between Exhaustion and Disengagement in a 10-Day Study

Authors Basinska BA, Gruszczynska E

Received 1 January 2020

Accepted for publication 27 February 2020

Published 16 March 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 267—278


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Mei-chun Cheung

Beata A Basinska, 1 Ewa Gruszczynska 2

1Faculty of Management and Economics, Gdansk University of Technology, Gdansk, Poland; 2Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland

Correspondence: Beata A Basinska
Faculty of Management and Economics, Gdansk University of Technology, Narutowicza 11/12, Gdansk 80-233, Poland
Tel +48 58 647 1899
Fax +48 58 347 1861

Background: Burnout has been traditionally seen as a chronic and stable state in response to prolonged stress. However, measures of momentary burnout are not well established, even though the within-person approach suggests that the symptoms of burnout may vary from day to day for the same employee. The aim of this study is to examine the daily inter- and intra-personal variability of the symptoms of burnout and the cross-lagged relationship between two components of burnout, exhaustion and disengagement.
Methods: An online diary study over 10 consecutive workdays was conducted among 235 civil servants (75% women, average tenure of 15 years). Daily burnout was measured with the eight-item Oldenburg Burnout Inventory.
Results: The intra-class correlation coefficients indicate that, although significant between-person variability exists, most of the burnout variance is within persons. Using the random intercept cross-lagged panel (RI-CLP) model to control for these between-person differences, mainly insignificant “pure” within-person cross-lagged relationships between exhaustion and disengagement were revealed. Moreover, day-to-day autoregressive effects were weaker than same-day residual correlations.
Conclusion: This is one of the first studies to use daily diaries and the RI-CLP model to study burnout, including the separation of the more stable and more dynamic parts of each component. When stable parts were controlled for, the same-day relationships between exhaustion and disengagement were more pronounced than day-to-day effects. This might suggest stronger situational influences than carryover mechanism. Thus, conceptualizing burnout in terms of daily symptoms may shed promising insights into how it develops and add implications for pro-healthy changes in the workplace.

Keywords: burnout, diary study, multilevel analysis, cross-lagged effect, the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory

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