Burnout, but not job strain, is associated with irritable bowel syndrome in working adults

Keren Hod*, Samuel Melamed, Roy Dekel, Nitsan Maharshak, Ami D. Sperber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Although stress is an important component of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) pathophysiology, the possibility that work-related stress is implicated in the pathophysiology of IBS has not been widely studied. This study aimed to examine whether job strain (a combination of high job demands and low control at work) and/or burnout, the outcome of a gradual depletion of energetic resources resulting from chronic exposure to work-related stress, are associated with IBS. Methods: Fifty-five patients fulfilling the Rome III criteria for IBS and 214 matched healthy controls (HC) participated in this cross-sectional study. All participants completed a job strain measure, the Shirom - Melamed Burnout Measure (SMBM), and dietary and health questionnaires. Results: There was no significant difference in the prevalence of job strain between IBS patients and HC (25.5% vs. 23.0%, respectively). Job strain was not associated with increased IBS prevalence (adjusted OR = 1.99, 95% CI: 0.54–7.33). In contrast, the mean burnout score in the IBS group was significantly higher than in HC (2.9 ± 1.1 vs. 2.1 ± 0.8, p < .001). Burnout was associated with a 2.41-fold elevated prevalence of IBS (95% CI: 1.16–5.02), after adjusting for potential confounding variables including job strain. Moreover, the odds of having IBS increased in patients with a high burnout level (adjusted OR = 3.3, 95% CI:1.09–10.03). Conclusion: Burnout, but not job strain, is associated with the prevalence of IBS in working adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110121
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Burnout
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Job strain
  • Stress


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