Fast changes in the healthcare sector during the last decades may have contributed to stress-related exhaustion among the predominantly female workforce. Women’s higher prevalence of exhaustion and burnout may be due to responsibilities in the private sphere. The study aimed to investigate work and family factors as predictors of self-reported Exhaustion Disorder (s-ED) among healthcare workers and explore differences between women and men working in the same organisation.
A prospective cohort study of healthcare workers without s-ED according to survey response at baseline in 2008 (n=1886). S-ED, assessed by a new self-report instrument based on clinical criteria, was used as outcome at follow-up in 2010. Job demands, job control, social support and change at the workplace at baseline were evaluated as predictive work factors, marital status and parental responsibility as predictive family factors. Relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated by Cox regression.
9.2 per cent reported s-ED at follow-up 2010 (6.6% and 9.8% for men and women, respectively). High demands (RR 2.4; 1.53-3.63), low control (RR 1.8; 1.13-2.79) and no social support (RR 1.8; 1.13-2.97) turned out as predictors. High demands (RR 3.4; 1.01-10.86) showed a higher risk estimate for men, while the other associations were statistically significant only for women. The gender difference was most clear for social support. The family factors did not increase the risk of exhibiting s-ED at follow-up, neither for women nor men.
Work factors contributed to explain s-ED, most clearly among women. The basic family factors did not contribute to explain differences in prevalence of S-ED between women and men. Lack of social support at work seems to be more negative for women while high job demands had a stronger impact for men. The interplay between work and private conditions needs to be further investigated.