Cynicism and depersonalization have been thought to be manifestations of the same mental distancing of oneself from work related activities. Burnout instruments typically include only one of these measurements, depending on the occupational field and cynicism is not included in any of the burnout measures designed for healthcare professions. However, cynicism may not be on the same spectrum as depersonalization and the two may be different constructs. Symptoms of cynicism may differ from that of depersonalization. There are no validated burnout instruments that measure depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment, and cynicism. PubMed, Web of Science, PsychInfo and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection databases were searched for studies evaluating the relationship between cynicism and depersonalization, i.e. if they are the same or separate constructs, and/or studies performing a direct comparative analysis between a three-factor and four-factor model of burnout. Results from all studies endorsed cynicism as a separate construct from depersonalization. Additionally, the four-factor model was found to have a significantly better fit to the data over three-factor models. Both three and four-factor models fit data significantly better than one-factor models measuring exhaustion alone. Cynicism and depersonalization emerged as separate constructs in all included studies. Our findings support the use of four-dimensional burnout measurements to include cynicism.
Sierra T, Brown H, Smith N. Rethinking the Maslach Burnout Inventory: Measuring Cynicism as a Fourth Dimension of Burnout. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2021; 3(3).
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