The role of psychosocial working conditions on burnout and its core component emotional exhaustion – a systematic review
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
DOI 10.1186/1745-6673-9-10
  1. Psychosocial
  2. Working conditions
  3. Emotional exhaustion
  4. Burnout
  5. Systematic review


To analyze the association between psychosocial working conditions and burnout and its core component emotional exhaustion, a systematic literature review was undertaken including cohort studies, case–control studies, and randomized controlled trials.


The literature search in Medline and PsycInfo was based on a defined search string and strict exclusion and inclusion criteria. Evaluation of the 5,599 initially identified search hits by two independent reviewers and a detailed quality assessment resulted in six methodologically adequate cohort studies considering the relationship between psychosocial working conditions and burnout (one study) as well as the burnout core component emotional exhaustion (five studies).


The results of our systematic review point to a relationship between psychosocial working conditions and the development of emotional exhaustion/burnout. Particularly high job demands seem to play a role in the development of emotional exhaustion. However, strong intercorrelations between workplace factors, as a matter of principle, make the identification of a single psychosocial workplace factor (being associated with an especially high or low risk of burnout) difficult.


Multidimensional approaches including reduction of work demands, enhancement of decision latitude and improving the social climate might be promising for preventing burnout and emotional exhaustion. However, methodologically adequate intervention studies are urgently needed to prove the effectiveness of workplace interventions.