Burnout among school teachers: quantitative and qualitative results from a follow-up study in southern Sweden

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BACKGROUND: Teachers are at high risk of stress-related disorders. This longitudinal study aimed to (a) identify which occupational, sociodemographic and life-style factors and self-efficacy at baseline that were of importance for burnout, (b) explore associations between changes in the studied factors versus changes in burnout, and (c) by interviews increase the understanding of perceived job demands among teachers.

METHODS: A cohort of 310 Swedish teachers in school-years 4-9 responded to a questionnaire of occupational, sociodemographic and life-style factors, self-efficacy and burnout, at baseline and at follow-up (mean 30 months later). A combined measure with four levels of burnout was crafted, based on exhaustion, cynicism and professional efficacy (Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey). Quantitative data were analysed with multiple ordinal regression, and qualitative data were analysed with content analysis of interview responses from a subgroup of the teachers (n = 81).

RESULTS: The occurrence of high burnout (level 2 and 3 combined) were similar at baseline and follow-up (14% vs. 15%). However, many teachers fluctuated between the levels of burnout (28% increased and 24% decreased). Burnout at baseline was of importance for change of work or being off duty at follow up. In the multi-exposure model, low self-efficacy [OR 0.42; CI 0.26-0.68] and high job demands [OR 1.97; CI 1.02-3.8] were the strongest explanatory variables. Low self-efficacy remained as the strongest explanatory factor after adjustment for burnout at baseline. Increased job demands during follow-up was associated with an increased level of burnout [OR 3.41; CI 1.73-6.69], whereas increased decision latitude was associated with a decreased level of burnout [OR 0.51; CI 0.30-0.87]. Two major categories of demands emerged in the qualitative analysis; i.e. too high workload and a sense of inadequacy.

CONCLUSIONS: A substantial proportion of teachers showed signs of burnout at both occasions. Low self-efficacy and high job demands was of importance for burnout, and changes in burnout was further associated with changes in decision latitude. The results points to the need of actions on individual, organizational and a societal levels.


External organisations
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health
  • Psychology
Original languageEnglish
Article number655
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 29
Publication categoryResearch