Burnout is a relatively new concept (coined with its contemporary intent in 1975), although interest in this topic has significantly increased over the last 40 years. Most who have studied burnout agree that it is a multifaceted construct, including (but not limited to) domains like work-supportive energy (i.e., exhaustion and fatigue), perception of work meaningfulness, work-directed concentration and focus, and extent of work engagement. Although definitions vary, the most widely accepted model of burnout has been developed by Dr. Christina Maslach, Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkley, who conceptualized it as a tripartite construct comprised of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. Although many agree with the validity of the Maslach model, there has been some debate on the relative value of its components. Exhaustion has received the greatest attention throughout the burnout research literature, with some suggesting that it is a primary or singularly necessary criterion for burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001; Shirom, 1989; cf. Pines & Aronson, 1988). Maslach and colleagues argue that one factor is not enough to fully define the complex process of occupational burnout. They note, ".the fact that exhaustion is a necessary criterion for burnout does not mean it is sufficient. If one were to look at burnout out of context, and simply focus on the individual exhaustion component, one would lose sight of the phenomenon entirely" (p. 403).
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