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Burnout and health status in Italian air traffic controllers

by G. Dell'Erba, P. Venturi, F. Rizzo, S. Porcu, P. Pancheri
Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine ()

Abstract

This study investigated burnout in air traffic controllers (ATC's). There were 109 Italian ATC's who filled out the Rome Burnout Inventory, a new tool for burnout assessment, during breaks in the working environment. The questionnaire assessed: 1) emotional-mental exhaustion (EME); 2) physical exhaustion (PE); 3) social support by components of the social network; 4) work- and nonwork-related stressors; 5) self-reported psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. Our data show that the burnout syndrome is closely and positively related to age, years spent in air traffic control, professional dissatisfaction, and to work stressors, but not to nonwork stressors. In our sample, burnout was negatively correlated with social support provided by friends and family. The PE construct seemed to be unreliable in detecting physical burnout in Italian ATC's. Using analysis of variance, subjects with self-reported psychosomatic disorders did not show higher levels of EME scores. Further, EME was positively correlated with self-perceived psychological distress (anxiety, depression and impulse discontrol), but not with physician-rated psychopathology, as revealed by psychoactive drug intake. We suggest that burnout is a construct independent from clinical anxiety or depression.

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