Burnout versus work engagement in their effects on 24-hour ambulatory monitored cardiac autonomic function

Lorenz J.P. Van Doornen, Jan H. Houtveen, Saar Langelaan, Arnold B. Bakker, Willem Van Rhenen, Wilmar B. Schaufeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Burnout has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This relationship may be mediated by a stress-related disruption in cardiac autonomic activity. The aim of the present study was to assess cardiac autonomic activity (sympathetic and parasympathetic) during a working day in burned out managers. Thirty burned out, 29 healthy control and 29 engaged managers (a psychologically contrasting group) were identified using the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS) and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES). Twentyfour-hour ambulatory measurements were carried out during a regular workday and the subsequent night. Pre-ejection period (PEP) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) were used as measures of cardiac sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, respectively. Contrary to expectations, the burned out, engaged and control groups did not differ in cardiac sympathetic and cardiac parasympathetic activity, or heart rate. Thus, burnout does not seem to be associated with an unfavourable cardiac autonomic profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-331
Number of pages9
JournalStress and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Burnout
  • Heart rate
  • Pre-ejection-period (PEP)
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA)
  • Work engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health


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