• burnout;
  • China;
  • effort–reward imbalance;
  • job content questionnaire;
  • Maslach Burnout Inventory;
  • nurses;
  • stress

xie z., wang a. & chen b. (2011) Nurse burnout and its association with occupational stress in a cross-sectional study in Shanghai. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(7), 1537–1546.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a study investigating nurse burnout and its association with occupational stressors in Shanghai, China.

Background.  Burnout is described as feelings of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. Measuring burnout among nurses and its association with occupational stressors are important in providing appropriate intervention to reduce stress and burnout.

Method.  In total, 527 nurses from 41 hospitals in Shanghai returned self-reported questionnaires in June 2008. Their burden of burnout was measured by the Chinese version of ‘Maslach Burnout Inventory’, and their stress by the Chinese version of ‘job content questionnaire’ and ‘effort-reward imbalance questionnaire’.

Results.  Most nurses (74·76%) had a Demand/Control ratio higher than 1 and 27·13% had an Effort/Reward ratio higher than 1. The nurses showed a high level of emotional exhaustion, moderate level of depersonalization, and low level of reduced personal accomplishment. Linear regression analyses showed higher burden of stress and burnout among nurses at younger age, or on shift duty or from higher grade hospitals. Both the job content questionnaire and effort-reward imbalance questionnaire models had good predictive powers of the nurses’ burnout, especially the effort-reward imbalance questionnaire model is more powerful than the other in predicting two Maslach Burnout Inventory subscales of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.

Conclusion.  Nurses in Shanghai were suffering from high levels of burnout, which was strongly associated with work-related stress. Interventions in reducing occupational stress are needed to reduce the burden of burnout in Chinese nurses.