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Exploring correlates of work exhaustion and physical exhaustion for a sample of massage therapists and body workers

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Purpose ‐ The aim of the paper is to formally test that physical exhaustion is distinguishable from work exhaustion, and to investigate common as well as differential correlates of each type of exhaustion. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An on-line survey sample of 1,895 complete-data massage therapists and body workers (MT & BWs) was used to test the study hypotheses. Findings ‐ Factor analytic support was found for distinguishable measures of work exhaustion and physical exhaustion. In separate regression models common significant correlates for both types of exhaustion included: gender (females higher), higher surface acting, higher accumulated and continuing education occupational costs, and lower job satisfaction. However, job satisfaction had a significantly stronger negative correlation to work exhaustion versus physical exhaustion. Looking at impact on occupational outcomes, physical exhaustion had a stronger positive correlation to being forced to stay in occupation than work exhaustion, but work exhaustion had a stronger positive correlation to intent to leave occupation than physical exhaustion. Unique correlates for work exhaustion included more years in practice and lower education level, while unique correlates for physical exhaustion included: more average days worked/week, higher deep acting, and higher occupational identification. Research limitations/implications ‐ From a measurement perspective, the three-item measure of physical exhaustion and five item measure of work exhaustion each had a good reliability. However, ideally more items should be used to measure physical exhaustion, and other work exhaustion scales should be utilized to validate the results. Expanding the job demands-resources framework to also include occupational-level variables, such as accumulated costs, seems to hold promise for helping to further understand the antecedents of exhaustion. Practical implications ‐ Work and physical exhaustion can impact on occupational outcomes and are risks for other samples such as nurses, home health care aides, physical therapists, and athletic trainers. Many MT & BWs work alone and meditation is suggested as an effective method to improve job satisfaction, reduce work exhaustion and decrease occupational intent to leave. Originality/value ‐ The paper uses a sample of massage therapists and body workers and overall the findings suggest that work exhaustion and physical exhaustion are related but distinct exhaustion components.
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Keywords: Hours of work; Job satisfaction; Physical exhaustion; Rest allowances; Therapists; Work exhaustion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-09-14

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