© Munich American Reassurance Company

Occupational Burnout Outbreak

September 2020

Do little tasks on your to do list sometimes seem like insurmountable challenges? Are you sometimes overcome with dread on Sunday evening, contemplating the start of another work week? Are you beginning to take on a cynical view of all things work-related? Do you feel tired all the time? If so, you may be experiencing occupational burnout.

Burnout defined

Occupational burnout is the state in which you’ve exhausted all your resources but can’t rid yourself of the nervous compulsion to go on.1 Its hallmarks are emotional exhaustion, a sense of lack of accomplishment and depersonalization. When burnout is work-related, it is referred to as occupational burnout. Common symptoms include chronic indecision, lack of motivation, frequent mistakes, irritability and a sense of physical, psychological and mental overload.

Occupational burnout is not the same as depression, but those with burnout may also have depression. Generally speaking, burnout is usually work-related, whereas depression pervades all areas of life without necessarily having a specific origin.2

Psychological effects from burnout include insomnia, depression, use of psychotropic and antidepressant medications, higher incidence of hospitalization for mental disorders and other psychological symptoms.3

Studies show that workplace burnout is also a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease. Other studies found similar patterns for high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, increased hospitalization due to cardiovascular disorders, musculoskeletal pain, prolonged fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, severe injuries and early mortality (before age 45).

Download the full whitepaper

Occupational Burnout is not a new phenomenon, although only recently has it received formal, independent recognition from health organizations.

History of burnout

The symptoms and concept of occupational burnout are not new. Even in the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes describes melancholic world-weariness. The term burnout was also found to be documented throughout the annals of occupational medicine.4

The term neurasthenia was first used as early as 1829 to describe nervous exhaustion in patients run down by the “pace and strain of modern industrial life.”4 Americans were particularly prone to neurasthenia, resulting in the nickname "Americanitis."5

In 1974, psychoanalyst Herbert J. Freudenberger became the first clinical researcher to publish the term "burnout" in a psychology-related journal. The paper was based on his observations of the volunteer staff at a free clinic for drug addicts.6

Physician Burnout: The canary in the coal mine?

A national survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012 reported that U.S. physicians suffer more burnout than other American workers. Medscape’s 2019 survey reports that physician burn-out has reached extreme levels at 59%. Note that colloquial depression refers to feeling down, blue or sad, while clinical depression is chronic, severe depression not caused by a grief-associated event.7

Physician burnout causes financial strain on the U.S. health care system. Cost-consequence analysis estimates that in the healthcare field, approximately $4.6 billion in costs related to physician turnover and reduced clinical hours is attributable to burnout each year. On an organizational level, the annual economic cost associated with physician burnout related to turnover and reduced clinical hours is approximately $7,600 per employed physician each year.8

Physicians are not the only high stress position at risk for burnout. In the general workforce, other job burnout accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in health-care spending annually.9 One could assume that an occupational burnout epidemic might first manifest itself in the higher stress professions. Other industries where occupational burnout is becoming more prevalent are: social work, emergency response, design, business development and sales, retail, public accounting, and law.10

Download the report to view the full results.

Contact the Author
Jody Elmore
Senior Risk Management Consultant
Underwriting Services
Todd Tucker
Todd Tucker, FLMI, ARA, AIAA
Senior Group Underwriting Consultant
Group & Living Benefits

This article was originally featured in the September 2020 Issue of OTR and is re-printed with permission of ON THE RISK, Journal of the Academy of Life Underwriting (www.ontherisk.com).

References
Cohen, Josh. “Minds Turned to Ash.” The Economist, August/September 2016, https://www.1843magazine.com/features/minds-turned-to-ash.

Gunti, P. “Burnout – more than just a fashionable complaint.” March 2011, https://www.myhandicap.com/en/information-disability-chonical-illness/health-and-aids/mental-health/burnout/.

Cassella, Carly. “Burn-Out” Is Now a Legitimate Syndrome According to the WHO. Here Are The Symptoms.” Science Alert, May 29, 2019. https://www.sciencealert.com/burn-out-is-now-officially-recognised-as-a-legitimate-syndrome-by-the-world-health-organisation.

Cohen, Josh. “Not Working: Why We Have to Stop.” Granta Books. January 1, 2019.

Marcus, G (1998-01-26). "One Step Back; Where Are the Elixirs of Yesteryear When We Hurt?” The New York Times.

Freudenberger, H.J. (1974). "Staff burnout". Journal of Social Issues. 30: 159–165. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1974.tb00706.x.

Kane, Leslie MA. “Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019.” January 16, 2019, https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2019-lifestyle-burnout-depression-6011056#2

Han, Shasha, MS; Shanafelt, Tait D., MD; Christine A., Sinsky, MD; Awad, Karim M., MD; Dyrbye, Liselotte N., MD, MHPE; Fiscus, Lynne C., MD, MPH; Trockel, Mickey, MD; Goh, Joel, PhD. “Estimating the Attributable Cost of Physician Burnout in the United States.” Annals of Internal Medicine, June 4, 2019.

Kraft, Sheryl. “Companies are facing an employee burnout crisis.” CNBC.com. August 28, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/14/5-ways-workers-can-avoid-employee-burnout.html.

10 Montañez, Rachel. “The 6 Industries Where People Experience Burnout the Fastest.” Fairygodboss. https://fairygodboss.com/articles/the-6-industries-where-people-experience-burn-out-the-fastest. August 2, 2019.

Rechtlicher Hinweis

Die gewünschte Information bezieht sich auf Finanzinstrumente, Wertpapiere oder diesbezügliche Angebote, die nicht in oder in die Vereinigten Staaten, Kanada, Australien oder Japan und von US-Bürgern (gemäß der Definition in der Regulation S des US Securities Act 1933) angeboten werden, noch in und von diesen Ländern bzw. US-Bürgern akzeptiert werden dürfen. Folglich wurden diese Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere sowie diesbezügliche Angebote (i) weder nach dem Amerikanischen Wertpapiergesetz noch nach einem Gesetz eines US-Bundesstaates registriert; (ii) diese Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere dürfen nicht direkt oder indirekt in oder in die Vereinigten Staaten angeboten, verkauft, wiederverkauft, verpfändet oder geliefert werden, es sei denn, es liegt eine Befreiung von den Registrierungsanforderungen des Amerikanischen Wertpapiergesetzes vor; und (iii) solche Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere können dem US-Steuerrecht unterliegen. Keine der hierin enthaltenen Unterlagen begründet ein Verkaufsangebot oder eine Aufforderung eines Angebots zum Kauf von Finanzinstrumenten oder Wertpapieren in den Vereinigten Staaten, Kanada, Australien oder Japan bzw. an US-Bürger oder in eine andere Rechtsordnung, in der ein solches Angebot oder dessen Einholung rechtswidrig ist. Personen, die ein Angebot annehmen möchten, dürfen weder die Post der Vereinigten Staaten, Kanadas, Australiens oder Japans oder irgendein Mittel oder Instrument (wie z.B. Faxübertragung, Telex oder Telefon) des Zwischenstaatlichen- oder Außenhandels, noch irgendwelche Einrichtungen einer inländischen Wertpapierbörse der Vereinigten Staaten, Kanadas, Australiens oder Japans für irgendeinen Zweck benutzen, der direkt oder indirekt mit der Annahme eines Angebots zusammenhängt. Annahmen oder andere sich auf ein Angebot beziehende Unterlagen dürfen nicht postalisch in den Vereinigten Staaten, Kanada, Australien oder Japan frankiert oder abgestempelt werden. Alle Personen, die ein Angebot annehmen möchten, müssen eine Adresse außerhalb der USA, Kanada, Japan und Australien für den Erhalt jeglicher Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere angeben. Darüber hinaus wird von jedem Inhaber der relevanten Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapieren angenommen, dem Emittenten dargelegt zu haben, dass (i) er kein US-Bürger ist und (ii) dass er diese Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere nicht auf Rechnung eines US-Bürgers erwirbt.

Weder die in diesen Seiten enthaltenen Informationen, noch irgendeine Meinungsäußerung begründen ein Angebot oder eine Aufforderung, Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere in irgendeiner Rechtsordnung zu erwerben. Jegliches Angebot oder jegliche Aufforderung wird nur in Unterlagen gemacht, die dafür rechtzeitig veröffentlicht werden; und jegliches Angebot und jegliche Aufforderung ist beschränkt auf die in diesen Unterlagen bereitgestellten Informationen.

Please scroll and read to the very bottom, before you can confirm.
We use cookies on our websites to improve your experience as an internet user, and to optimise our online services. They comprise cookies that are required for technical purposes, and without which the website functionality could not be guaranteed. We also employ cookies to carry out statistical evaluations of the reach of our websites. These evaluations are anonymised. You can find further information on the cookies we use, and ways to object to the use of cookies for statistical evaluations, in our cookie guidelines.