Job-related stress, also known as burnout, is an increasing problem in society today. Unemployment rates are still high, and people who are employed are often taxed with more than their share of responsibility. Those who are employed may find it necessary to work longer and harder just to maintain and safeguard their employment. All of these behaviors can lead to work stress and job burnout.
When an employee develops significant work-related stress, it can impact their health and well-being. Aside from absenteeism and lost wages, physical problems can ensue and impair quality of life and disrupt family relationships. Understanding the factors that influence work stress and what mechanisms contribute to burnout are important avenues of research. Victoria Blom of the Division of Insurance Medicine and the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden wanted to explore this topic.
Blom conducted a study that looked specifically at how family support affected burnout in relation to control and job demands. Using a sample of over 14,500 individual twins, Blom assessed both identical and fraternal twins to determine the unique effects of these factors. She found that for both men and women, high levels of family support directly predicted lower levels of job burnout.
This finding supports social support theories which show close relational support to be a protective factor for issues such as stress and depression. This protective influence was strongest among the female participants, which also supports social support theories. However, Blom did find an association between family support and control and burnout for men.
When Blom examined how family support affected job demands with relation to burnout, she found no association. Rather, high job demands were closely related to burnout regardless of the level of family support. This finding suggests that the negative effects of high job demands are not minimized by environmental conditions, but may be influenced instead by individual factors, such as expertise, coping styles, and job skills. Blom added, “These results offer increased understanding of the mechanisms involved in the associations between work stress and burnout.”
Blom, V., Bodin, L., Bergström, G., Hallsten, L., Svedberg, P. (2013). The importance of genetic and shared environmental factors for the associations between job demands, control, support and burnout. PLoS ONE 8(9): e75387. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075387
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