Kathleen Schwarzkopfa,∗, Doris Strausb, Hildburg Porschkeb, Hansjörg Znojc, Nathalie Conradd, Arno Schmidt-Trucksässe, Roland von Känela,f

a Department of Neurology, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital and University of Bern, Switzerland b Clinica Holistica Engiadina SA, Susch, Graubu ̈nden, Switzerland
c Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Bern, Switzerland
d Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, Switzerland

e Division Sports and Exercise Medicine, Institute of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Basel, Switzerland f Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Clinic Barmelweid, Barmelweid, Switzerland 

abstract

Purpose: The relationship between burnout and depression has been a major focus of burnout research, but personality factors might be equally important. Largely based on theoretical grounds, narcissism has repeatedly been proposed to contribute to burnout.
Objective: The aim of this study was to examine empirically the relationship between burnout and narcissism.

Methods: We investigated 723 consecutive in-patients, aged between 22 and 80 years (51.2% female), at a hospital specialized in the treatment of job stress-related disorders. Patients completed the 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory and the 20-item Narcissism Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Perceived Stress Scale.

Results: After controlling for sociodemographic factors, depressive symptoms, sleep quality, and perceived stress, narcissism explained 3.5% of the total burnout score (p < .001); regarding burnout dimensions, narcissism explained 7.3% of emotional exhaustion (p<.001) and 3.6% of depersonalization (p<.001), but was unrelated to lack of achievements (p = .45). Depressive symptoms explained 3.6% of the total burnout score, 2.6% of emotional exhaustion, 2.0% of depersonalization, and 1.4% of lack of achievements (all p-values ≤.005).

Conclusions: Personality factors, especially narcissism, may be equally important as depressive symptoms, and thus should regularly be considered in burnout research and therapy. 

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