20/10/2006

Job-related burnout is related to alcohol dependence

Job-related burnout is related to alcohol dependence but not to high alcohol
consumption. This was found out in a recently published study by Finnish
Institute of Occupational Health.  The study was conducted in collaboration
with National Public Health Institute as a part of the Health 2000 Study.

Burnout is a consequence of chronic stress. It has been most consistently
related to high demands and low resources at work. During 2000 and 2001, 2.5%
of the Finnish employees suffered from severe and 25% from mild burnout. 

Alcohol dependence is characterized by e.g. strong urge to drink alcohol,
decreased ability to control alcohol use, increased tolerance of alcohol and
withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol dependence is most prevalent in the working age.

The association between burnout and alcohol dependence was similar among women
and among men.

The vulnerability to alcohol dependence is inheritable, but in addition to high
consumption, different environmental factors effect its development. According
to this study, burnout is also related to alcohol dependence. Even though
alcohol consumption among women has recently increased, alcohol depend-ence and
other alcohol-related problems are more common among men. However, the
association be-tween burnout and alcohol problems studied was similar among
both genders. Due to the cross-sectional study design, the causality between
these phenomena could not be solved. It is also possible that alcohol
dependence predisposes to burnout or that a common predisposing factor exists
between both problems.

Burnout was not related to high alcohol consumption.

Even though prospective studies have generally supported the effect of stress
on elevated alcohol consumption, the relationship between stress and alcohol
use are complex. While some employees may reduce their alcohol consumption
during stress, those with a familiar risk for it are likely to react to stress
with increased alcohol consumption. Burnout was not related to high alcohol
consumption in this study.

Brief intervention has a decreasing effect on alcohol consumption.

Chronic work stress and serious alcohol problems can affect health and
productivity of the workforce. Thus, both problems should be routinely screened
in occupational health services. Brief intervention has been developed as a
tool for early intervention for heavy alcohol users, and it has been proved
ef-ficient in occupational health services. In its simplest form, brief
intervention means inquiring after drinking habits and informing on the health
risks of alcohol use. Working conditions and burnout can be assessed with
interviews and questionnaires. Because work-related problems can sustain
problem-atic health behaviour among those with alcohol problems, good practices
for alcohol dependence should include assessment of work conditions and
effective work stress management programs, in ad-dition to medication and
traditional psychosocial interventions.

The potential for health promotion at work places has not been fully realized.

At work places, new practices for early intervention concerning work-related
problems have been de-veloped. These practices serve also as an informative and
preventive procedure and offer tools for su-pervisors to approach difficult
subjects, for example a concern for a possible alcohol problem, at an early
stage.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health