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Air Traffic Controller Burnout: Survey Responses Regarding Job Demands, Job Resources, and Health

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Martinussen M, Richardsen AM. Air traffic controller burnout: survey responses regarding job demands, job resources, and health. Aviat Space Environ Med 2006; 77:422–428.



Introduction: There are currently many changes taking place in the aviation system affecting the work of air traffic controllers (ATCOs), and thus it was considered important to assess work-related demands and stress responses among ATCOs. The purpose of this study was to assess the level of burnout among ATCOs compared with other professions; to examine the relationship between job demands, job resources, and burnout; and to examine if burnout could predict both work- and health-related outcomes. Method: The participants were 209 Norwegian ATCOs and data were collected using a questionnaire distributed to 500 ATCOs. The study was part of a national survey of both health care and non-health care professions. Results: ATCOs did not score high on burnout compared with the three comparisons groups (police, journalists, and building constructors); in fact, ATCOs scored significantly lower on exhaustion compared with journalists (Hedges g = 65) and building constructors (Hedges g = 63), and not significantly different from police officers. Both job demands and job resources were related to burnout; work conflict especially was an important predictor for all of the three burnout dimensions. Burnout predicted psychosomatic complaints (r2 = 0.48), satisfaction with life (r2 = 0.25), and other work outcomes. Discussion: The overall level of burnout was not high among ATCOs compared with other professions, which may be related to selection procedures for the profession. Burnout was related to important outcome variables such as psychosomatic complaints and attitudes toward work.
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Keywords: Maslach Burnout Inventory; job satisfaction; occupational stress; psychosomatic complaints

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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