Work-Related Stress and Burnout

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Stress is an emotional, mental or physical response to experiences that lead to mental or bodily strain. Stress is helpful sometimes, however, when it is prolonged; it affects one well being; it might also lead to burnout. Burnout is the physical and emotional exhaustion related to excessive stress or study; this can lead to emotional, physical, spiritual, or psychological breakdown (AbuAlRub, 2004). This might be characterized by depression; feeling physically unwell, with regular stomach problems, colds, and headaches; overconfidence, excessive abuse of alcohol, suspicious outlook, and cynical attitudes. This paper will discuss work-related stress and burnout by the causes and effects, as well as interventions.

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Literature review

Research has been done to establish the relationship between stress and work, for three years research was done on middle-aged men, and the findings revealed that job demands were not contributors to coronary heart disease; however, the findings revealed that a working environment that is supportive to the workers reduces cases of coronary heart disease-related to job demands (De Bacquer, Pelfrene & Clays, 2005). This means that a job can be demanding, but if the environment is supportive enough, the workers are not affected by the demands. According to research carried out on 472 air force workers, 26% of the workforce complained of stressful work, 15% complained of emotional distress caused by work, and 5% reported that work-related stress affected their emotional health (Pflanz, & Sonnek, 2002).

This study revealed that close to 50% of workers are affected by work-related stress. There was another research on male and female workers in Germany, and according to this research, combined effects of work-related stress and downsizing were more than individual experience of each of these two causes (Dragano, Verde & Siegrist, 2005). There is also research on the effects of work stress on health workers, with most of it concentrating on nurses, and most research dwelled on the effects of work-related stress and burnout on health personnel working in acute care settings, such as long-term care.

Factors contributing to stress and burnout in health professionals and their effects

Health professionals like any other workers experience stress, which sometimes leads to burnout; this is caused by several factors, which include, excessive workload (De Bacquer, Pelfrene & Clays, 2005). Health professionals are sometimes overwhelmed with excessive work every day; doctors might have a lot of patients to attend to and with each patient having different conditions, the doctors become stressed out, and this might affect their physical health. Nurses who have a lot of patients to attend to during their shift might feel overworked, and if this is prolonged they can be affected physically and mentally (AbuAlRub, 2004).

While at work, employees need a little bit of freedom on making decisions concerning their work, and if the top management pressures them so much to the extent that they have no control of their job, this might stress them out because they feel like they are chasing their tails (Blieze & Castro, 2000). This affects their health, and workers working under such conditions appear nervous all the time and have no confidence when performing simple tasks: this is because they are used to being told what to do.

Their emotional health is affected, and if such working conditions persist, it affects their performance, which in turn affects the patients. Medical professionals deal with patients, who have different conditions, and there can be a case that requires a quick decision to improve a patient’s condition; however, if the nurse has little control of his or her work, waiting for the supervisor’s decision can cause serious problems.

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Sometimes managers in a health institution do not acknowledge the contribution of the junior workers; they criticize their work all the time, making them have a negative attitude towards their work. This makes their working environment stressful because they are not recognized, according to research, the workload might be too much for the employees, but if their work is acknowledged or their working environment made comfortable, they are less affected (AbuAlRub, 2004).

There are health institutions, which do not have enough workforce, in such institutions employees have problems defining their roles (Blieze & Castro, 2000), for instance, a nurse who is supposed to be handling patients in an award is called to take lab tests and then prescribe dispatch drugs in a pharmacy department. A nurse with such a role cannot describe his or her role; he or she is supposed to prepare and know the progress of every department. This is stressful, and if is prolonged, it can yield burnout, which can eventually lead to poor emotional and physical health. The performance of such a worker is also affected; sometimes things can go wrong in another station of work when working on other things, and this affects services offered to patients.

Most people dream of advancing in their career, and when they are confined in an institution that has little option for career development they become stressed. A nurse would dream of advancing to a full doctor, and if her dream is suppressed by lack of opportunities or discrimination in offering opportunities she feels frustrated; this might affect her performance and attitude toward her work. This might lead to burnout if a solution is not found, thus affecting her emotional and psychological health.

Health workers like other employees can be faced with conflict at work, and those who cannot handle conflicts well, are stressed, and depending on its extent, it can cause burnout; this might can affect the employees’ psychological, emotional, and even physical health.

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Interventions to reduce work-related stress and burnout

The top management together with the junior employees should cooperate to create an environment with minimum conditions causing stress. First, all health institutions should encourage workers to separate work and personal life, and nurture professional, and healthy personal relationships with each other; this will reduce conflicts at the workplace, thus reducing stress related to conflicts (Blieze & Castro, 2000).

The management should make sure that it has enough workers with defined roles to reduce workloads, and include breaks such as tea and lunch breaks to reduce the monotony of working. Supervisors should understand that their junior workers are human beings who need emotional support and understanding, as well as an appreciation of the work well done; this gives them morale and willingness to work, even in cases of increased workloads (Blieze & Castro, 2000). The management should think of ways that can be used to motivate workers, such as promotion, career advancement scholarships among others; this will make them realize that someone appreciates and recognizes their efforts. Regular leaves during the year, get together dinners should be encouraged to energize the workers, and relieve them of any accumulated stress.


Employees might be forced to work under stressful conditions, and in the case of health workers, it can happen during a time of crisis and disaster. However, if stressful conditions become part of the day-to-day work, it can lead to burnout and affect workers’ mental, psychological, emotional, or physical health. Therefore, the management together with the workers should work together to reduce stressful conditions at the workplace (AbuAlRub, 2004).


AbuAlRub, F. (2004). Job stress, job performance, and social support among hospital nurses. Journal of Nursing Scholars, 36(1), pp.73-8.

Blieze, D. & Castro, A. (2000). Role clarity, work overload, and organizational support: multilevel evidence of the importance of support. Work stress, 14(1), pp. 65-73.

De Bacquer, D. Pelfrene, E. & Clays, E. (2005). Perceived job stress and incidence of coronary events: 3-year follow-up of the Belgian job stress project cohort. American journal of epidemiology, 161(3), pp. 434-41.

Dragano, N., Verde, E. & Siegrist, J. (2005). Organizational downsizing and work stress: testing synergistic health effects in employed men and women. Journal Epidemiol community health, 59(2), pp. 694-9.

Pflanz, S. & Sonnek, S. (2002). Work stress in the military: prevalence, causes, and relationship to emotional health. Military Medicine, 176(4), pp. 877-82.

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PsychologyWriting. "Work-Related Stress and Burnout." April 26, 2022.