BACKGROUND: The causes of burnout can be mainly ascribed to stressful working conditions. Research results concerning the influence of personality characteristics on the risk of burnout are rare. Research addressing the interaction of the person and the environment on the risk of burnout is needed.
METHODS: This study analysed data from the Zürich study. This study of a cohort from the general population started in 1978, when the participants were 19 and 20 years old and followed them until the age of 49 and 50. In the last interview (2008) several dimensions of burnout were assessed for the first time. The association between burnout and coping (mastery and self-confidence) on the one hand and personality characteristics as assessed in 1988 by means of the Freiburg Personality Inventory on the other were analysed.
RESULTS: In a path-analytical model various associations between the variables under investigation were found. The results identify a complex interaction between a dysfunctional, maladaptive personality and burnout.
CONCLUSIONS: More samples from the general population are needed to better understand the interaction between person and environment on the risk of burnout.