2004
Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0921-5077
  • E-ISSN: 1875-7235

Abstract

Cortisol disturbance in employees suffering burnout; a pilot study

Cortisol disturbance in employees suffering burnout; a pilot study

P. Mommersteeg, C. Heijnen, G. Keijsers, M. Verbraak & L. van Doornen, Gedrag & Organisatie, volume 17, February 2004, nr. 1, pp. 18-31.

Burnout symptoms are the result of chronic job stress and insufficient recovery. Deviations in the secretion level of the stress hormone cortisol are associated with chronic stress and stress-related health problems. This study examined whether burnout subjects show a disturbed cortisol profile immediately after awakening, and whether a recovery of the deviating cortisol profile coincides with the relief of burnout symptoms after therapy. In this study the cortisol levels of both a clinical burnout group of employees (n=22) who were treated for their symptoms, and a matched control group (n=21) were determined, half an hour after awakening. The burnout group was sampled once more after 14 treatment sessions over approximately 6 months. At the initial measurement the burnout group showed lower cortisol levels after awakening in comparison to the control group. After treatment the burnout group reported fewer complaints whereas elevated levels of cortisol were found. Paradoxically, the rise in cortisol after therapy seems mainly attributable to subjects showing the least improvement in symptoms of exhaustion. Small sample size and the complexity and dynamics of this stress-response system complicate a clear interpretation of these findings.

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2004-03-01
2021-12-08
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