Burnout and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study of Apparently Healthy Employed Persons

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Abstract

Objective:

This prospective study was designed to test the extent to which the onset of type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy individuals was predicted by burnout, a unique affective response to combined exposure to chronic stressors.

Methods:

The study participants were 677 employed men and women who were followed up for 3 to 5 years (mean = 3.6 years) for the onset of diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Burnout was assessed by the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure with its three subscales: emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness.

Results:

The burnout symptoms were remarkably consistent over the follow-up period irrespective of changes in place of work and in employment status. During the follow-up period, 17 workers developed type 2 diabetes. Logistic regression results indicated that burnout was associated with a 1.84-fold increased risk of diabetes (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.19–2.85) even after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, leisure time physical activity, initial job category, and follow-up duration. In a subsample of 507 workers, the relative risk of diabetes was found to be much higher after additional control for blood pressure levels (odds ratio = 4.32, 95% CI = 1.75–10.67), available only for this subsample.

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that chronic burnout might be a risk factor for the onset of type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy individuals.

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