Emotional exhaustion and physical and cognitive fatigue are signs of burnout, often caused by prolonged exposure to stress. Burnout can cause negative health effects including poor sleep, depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular and immune disorders. The findings of a 9-year study of burnout in middle-aged working women are reported in an article in Journal of Women’s Health.
In the article, “Development of Burnout in Middle-Aged Working Women: A Longitudinal Study,” authors Annika Evolahti, PhD, Daniel Hultell, PhD, and Aila Collins, PhD, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, found that in contrast to previous research findings that showed burnout to be stable over time, they were able to cluster the women in the study into groups characterized by different developmental patterns of burnout. Some middle-aged women had high levels of burnout followed by recovery, whereas others had increasing, decreasing, or stable levels over a 9-year period. The authors explored how these patterns related to changes in work-related and other types of stress in the women’s lives and individual personality factors.
“This important study expands our understanding of burnout in working women, in terms of both patterns of development and relation to various stressors and individual factors,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, editor-in-chief of Journal of Women’s Health, executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, Va, and president of the Academy of Women’s Health.