Robert A. Boudreau PhD University of Lethbridge; Wyatt F. Boudreau MA University of Alberta; Amanda J. Mauthe MSc Mgt University of Lethbridge
The purpose is to provide the most extensive and comprehensive bibliographic record and chronicle of all things ever written and researched on burnout.
Henderson (1957) used the terms “emotional exhaustion,” physical weakness, and the need to be alone to describe civilizations in disarray. A Burnt-Out Case, a novel published in 1960 by Graham Green, describes the experiences of living and working in a Congo leper colony in the 1950s. Kennedy in her 1964 note, Lest We Burn Out, argued that the conversations around counseling burnout should be extended to the field of education and teachers. A few years later, Herbert Freudenberger presented the first descriptive account of “burn-out,” in which he observed that certain individuals within the human services professions came to be inoperative as a result of exhausting their physical and mental resources. Various other concepts had been used earlier to describe similar experiences (e.g., overstrain, shell-shock, nervous tension) and practitioners and workers showed signs of burnout long before it first appeared in print. Nonetheless, the significance of the early descriptions and Freudenberger’s discovery along with their timings, serves as a poignant reminder, a kind of foreshadowing, for both present realities and future promises. In today’s COVID-19 context, and in tomorrow’s post-pandemic world, burnout is more widespread, of longer duration, and more virulent than most people believe or fear: It is a kind of workplace plague affecting occupations, cultures, and countries alike that will not disappear anytime soon, but rather promises to get even worse.
From 1957 to 2005, over 10,000 reference citations were identified in separate bibliographies on burnout (i.e., Perlman & Hartman, 1982; Kleiber & Enzmann, 1990; Lubin, Robinson, & Sailors, 1992; Boudreau & Nakashima, 2002; Boudreau, 2005) further reinforcing its importance. Building on these early efforts, the proposed poster features a single integrated, bibliographic source of available burnout references for the period, 1957 to 2021. This bibliography offers the most comprehensive and usable set of burnout references available.
This burnout bibliography was developed using different versions of EndNote; the current version in use is X9. In order for a citation to be included in the bibliography, several key strategies guide the reference search process: 1) the word burnout or one of its related forms (e.g., burnt out, emotional exhaustion) must appear in the abstract or title. For definitional purposes, burnout refers to the occupational, emotional, or psychological phenomenon often characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, low personal accomplishment, negativism, or cynicism. 2) Citations that reported measuring some element of burnout were included whereas citations that merely use burnout to introduce a different topic were not included. 3) Citations in any language were included.
To date, a comprehensive catalogue totaling upwards of 81,786 unique burnout references from 1957 to the present has been compiled. A total of 41 active databases (e.g., PsycInfo) from 10 active providers (e.g., ProQuest) and 15 previous bibliographies were used in the development of the bibliography. (Note: These totals will be updated for any November 2021 virtual poster presentation). The bibliography includes a variety of sources such as journal articles, conference papers, books, magazines and newspaper articles, theses, and websites. The bibliography of burnout citations in the EndNote X9 format is searchable using different fields including title, year, occupation, author, keyword, and source type. The bibliography contains abstracts for approximately 46% of the captured reference citations.
In an attempt to measure the validity and “reach” of the burnout bibliography, two different sets (39 & 13) of review and meta-analysis articles (1993-2014) were examined by independent raters (Kappa Statistic = .96 for both sets/raters). The results indicate that 95.6% of all of the relevant references in the sample of 52 burnout review articles are in the current version of the burnout bibliography. These findings reinforce the position that the bibliography described herein is reliable, valid, and mostly complete in its coverage.
For the poster, a series of results will be featured including: burnout reference count by years, most prolific authors in the field, occupations with the greatest number of publications, top 10 burnout researchers, most popular journal outlets, most frequently used measures of burnout, most studied occupations, and the top countries represented across the almost 80,000-plus references in the most current version of the bibliography.
By providing a comprehensive and up-to-date list of burnout references, this bibliography serves as an invaluable resource for global researchers, students, and practitioners interested in examining either the general topic of burnout or the more specific discussions of burnout experienced across occupations (e.g., nursing, teaching). Anyone interested in doing burnout meta-analyses may want to consult this reference source before beginning any web searches. One might even consider using the bibliography as its own data set to examine and report on the changing trends within the field (e.g., use of different measures) of burnout that have emerged over the decades. Finally, this bibliography will be soon be available to anyone as an Open Educational Resource via a series of pressbooks.