Childcare involvement, job characteristics, gender and work attitudes as predictors of emotional exhaustion and sickness absence

Marrie H.J. Bekker*, Marcel A. Croon, Bibi Bressers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Reports in the literature vary regarding the existence of gender differences in relation to burnout and sickness absence. To investigate this, the present study was aimed at investigating the role of several gender-relevant variables, particularly childcare obligations, job characteristics, and work attitudes in emotional exhaustion and sickness absence in 404 male and female nurses in an institution for people with learning difficulties. Questionnaires were administered reflecting demographic and job characteristics, work and non-work attitudes, and emotional exhaustion (as measured by the Emotional Exhaustion Scale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory). Female nurses were expected to report higher levels of emotional exhaustion and to be absent through sickness more often than men. Also, childcare investment, job characteristics, and (non) work attitudes were expected - via emotional exhaustion - to predict gender differences in sickness absence. It was found that women did not have higher sickness absence rates, and although a gender difference appeared in emotional exhaustion it was in the opposite direction from that predicted. For both genders, emotional exhaustion had a significant positive effect on sickness absence, and especially childcare investment and number of work hours appeared to contribute to both outcomes. These results are of interest because, despite current stereotypes, sickness absence was not higher in women, and neither were women more at risk for emotional exhaustion. In particular, load - workload as well as care load - appeared to predict emotional exhaustion and thus sickness absence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-237
Number of pages17
JournalWork and Stress
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Absenteeism
  • Burnout
  • Childcare
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Gender
  • Gender differences
  • Health care
  • Job characteristics
  • Nurses
  • Sickness absence
  • Work attitudes


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