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Médecine du travail du personnel hospitalier

Personality traits among burnt out and non-burnt out health-care personnel at the same workplaces: a pilot study

Gustafsson G, Persson B, Eriksson S, Norberg A, Strandberg G. Personality traits among burnt out and non-burnt out health-care personnel at the same workplaces: a pilot study. Int J Ment Health Nurs 2009 Oct;18(5):336-348.

Stress-related illnesses, such as burnout, have increased over the last decade, but not everyone at the same workplace develops burnout, suggesting that individual factors may contribute to this phenomenon. The aim of this study was to describe patterns of personality traits among two groups of health-care personnel from the same workplaces, one group on sick leave due to medically-assessed burnout, and one group with no indication of burnout, respectively. Fourteen psychiatric- (n = 7) and elderly (n = 7)-care units, located in one specific area in a municipality in northern Sweden, participated in this questionnaire-based study. The participants (n = 40), on sick leave due to medically-assessed burnout (n = 20), and those with no indication of burnout (n = 20), respectively, completed Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors Questionnaire between February and December 2004. Conventional statistical methods and partial least square regression were used to analyze data. The results showed that the burnout group had lower scores regarding emotional stability and higher scores regarding anxiety than the non-burnout group, but the results also showed a wide variation of personality traits within groups. The most important indicators for belonging to the burnout group were ‘openness to changes’ and ‘anxiety’, and for belonging to the non-burnout group, ’emotional stability’, ‘liveliness’, ‘privateness’ (i.e. forthright or discreet), and ‘tension’. The result indicates complex interactions between personality traits and the context in which the individual lives. It seems to be important to increase our awareness of when personality traits may constitute opportunities versus risks in dealing with one’s existing circumstances.

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