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Table of Contents
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 37-40

Prevalence of burnout syndrome among information technology professionals working from home during COVID-19 pandemic

Neuro Physiotherapy, Padmashree Institute of Physiotherapy, Kommagatta, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission07-May-2022
Date of Decision14-Oct-2022
Date of Acceptance31-May-2023
Date of Web Publication11-Aug-2023

Correspondence Address:
Ms. C G Shobhika
Neuro Physiotherapy, Padmashree Institute of Physiotherapy, 149, Padmashree Campus, Kommagatta, Kengeri, Bangalore - 560060, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijptr.ijptr_80_22

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Context: The COVID-19 outbreak has made working from home (WFH) the new way of working for information technology professionals. WFH can affect the well-being and productivity of employees with no remote work experience.
Aim: The objective of this study is to estimate the prevalence of burnout syndrome among information technology professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Setting and Design: Cross sectional on line survey was done with google form.
Materials and Methods: A online survey was conducted by sending a burnout questionnaire consisting of 28 questions to the information technology professionals through the Google Forms and the data were collected and analyzed. A total of 125 information technology professionals participated in this study.
Statistical Analysis: Descriptive statistics and frequency distribution was done to calculate the prevalence.
Results: The findings of this study revealed that 39.2% of the population had moderate stress, 30.4% of the population had high stress, and 5.6% of the population had dangerous stress. This could be because of too much work allotted to finish, repetitive and monotonous work, change in the working environment, extended working hours, too much distraction, and social isolation.
Conclusion: This study concluded that there is a high amount of stress among the information technology professionals and the higher rates of work-related stress may significantly increase the incidence of other health disorders.

Keywords: Burnout syndrome, COVID-19, IT professionals, Prevalence, Work from home

How to cite this article:
Shobhika C G, Joshi DD. Prevalence of burnout syndrome among information technology professionals working from home during COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Phys Ther Res 2023;5:37-40

How to cite this URL:
Shobhika C G, Joshi DD. Prevalence of burnout syndrome among information technology professionals working from home during COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Phys Ther Res [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Oct 1];5:37-40. Available from: https://www.ijptr.org/text.asp?2023/5/1/37/383683

  Introduction Top

Working from home (WFH) has become the new method of working for information technology workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote employment has both advantages and downsides, according to studies.[1] However, it is crucial to investigate how WFH has affected the health and productivity of workers who have never worked remotely before and to identify the particular workplace conditions that impacted remote work during the COVID-19 crisis. Burnout syndrome affects how well people perform at work, their sense of self-worth, and their mental health, and it can result in other mental illnesses.

In welfare cultures, burnout is commonly seen as a serious work-related illness.[2] It is a type of chronic stress disorder that includes feelings of exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of personal success at work.[3] Burnout syndrome is a psychological discomfort caused by work that is accompanied by physiological changes caused by stress. It is marked by physical, psychological, and emotional weariness as a result of excessive labor exertion.[4] Burnout has been linked to depression, suicide thoughts, and a variety of other mental health problems. Burnout has an impact on both personal and professional relationships, and people who are experiencing it are considerably more likely to express a desire to quit the field.[5]

Burnout is assumed to occur as a result of long-term exposure to unmanageable workplace pressures. Individuals are sentenced to experience stress since the stressors cannot be mitigated. Professionals who are burned out feel helpless, despairing, and powerless.[6] Emotional fatigue is a state of tiredness in which employees believe they are no longer able to contribute emotionally. Depersonalization is characterized by the development of unfavorable attitudes and sentiments against others for whom labor is performed, to the point where they are blamed for the subject's own issues. Professionals with diminished personal accomplishment have a propensity to underestimate their own ability to complete tasks and engage with others.

Burnout is the result of a person's attempt to adapt or shield themselves from continuous work-related stress. When the work pressure turns into stress, it can affect how the person feels, how the person thinks, how the person behaves, and how the body works. Coping is defined as “cognitive and behavioral efforts to handle particular internal or external pressures that are assessed as demanding or surpassing the person's resources,” according to Lazarus and Folkman. If a person does not have enough coping resources to deal with a specific scenario, he or she will be psychologically susceptible. Burnout syndrome is a chronic condition that develops over time as a result of over usage of relatively new technology.[2]

Stress is harmful to your health. Burnout is linked to dysregulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, inflammatory reactions, and an increase in allostatic load. Individuals with occupational burnout have been found to have abnormalities in their brains, including a loss in gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate, caudate, and putamen. Furthermore, professional burnout has been linked to a decreased ability to downregulate emotional stresses, altered limbic network functioning, and alterations in subcortical volume.[7] Burnout has also been linked to other psychological diseases, such as depression, according to research.[8] There is not enough study on therapeutic approaches to know if they can provide a suitable solution to the problem. Cognitive restructuring approaches are recommended to achieve behavioral changes. The first step toward burnout recovery should be individual level changes.[9] Studies have shown that psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy results in a faster return to work.[10]

The pandemic has made people more vulnerable to social isolation and hence the highest level of loneliness. This could be related to less happiness with one's job, i.e. lower work satisfaction, performance, and stress enhancement.[1] Thus, the early detection of burnout syndrome is necessary for the adoption of preventive measures. The objective of our study was to estimate the prevalence of burnout syndrome among information technology professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  Subjects and methods Top

An online cross-sectional online survey was carried out from March 2022 to April 2022 among information technology professionals who are WFH. Ethical clearance was taken from the ethical committee of Padmashree Institute of Physiotherapy, Bengaluru. A burnout questionnaire by Michelle post was used to assess the level of burnout in information technology professionals. The questionnaire was sent using Google Forms. Samples were conveniently selected. The questionnaire consisted of 28 questions which are divided into three further subcategories. It was scored according to a 5-point scale. The total scoring ranged from a minimum of 28 scores to a maximum of 140 scores.[11] Sample sizes were determined.

Questionnaires were sent to 150 subjects, out of which a total of 125 subjects took part in the study. All subjects submitted informed consent and their demographic information. Subjects were selected by convenient sampling. To collect the responses from all subjects, a questionnaire was distributed across social media sites using a Google Forms. The objectives of the study were explained to the participants and only those who gave consent were given the option to answer the questionnaire. The subjects included were as follows: (i) both male and female, (ii) those who are having working experience of more than 1 year, and (iii) working hours, more than 5 h per day. Subjects who are diagnosed with musculoskeletal conditions and subjects who had been reportedly receiving psychiatric care were excluded from the study. All the responses were analyzed in MS Excel.

  Results Top

A total of 125 subjects participated, out of them 53 were male and 72 were female. Most of the samples were between 20 and 30 years old. Based on their body mass index (BMI), they were mostly normal to overweight. On average, the subjects worked for 8.7 ± 1.3 hours per day. [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic characteristics of participants

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Out of 125 subjects, 49 subjects (39.2% of the population) had a moderate amount of stress, 38 subjects had a high amount of stress, and 7 subjects were in dangerous stress [Table 2].
Table 2: Number of subjects according to the range of stress

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  Discussion Top

This survey provides an insight into the level of burnout among information technology professionals. Findings of the study revealed that 39.2% of the population have moderate stress, i.e. the greatest number of information technology professionals have a moderate amount of stress. Similarly, 30.4% of the population have high stress and 5.6% have dangerous stress. Previous studies have also found a significant frequency of stress among information technology professionals.[12],[13] The type of work and the job content also had an impact on stress. WFH productivity was adversely impacted by interpersonal conflict and social isolation.

Most of the employees were forced to work at their home. Challenge of sharing workspace with family members, causing difficulties for the professionals. The distracting environment often results in reduced productivity and affects job satisfaction. The level of stress may also vary with age and experience. Employees in higher positions seem to experience elevated level of stress, possibly due to increased personal and professional responsibilities resulting from their shift in position. The distracting environment often results in reduced productivity and also affects job satisfaction. The level of stress may also vary with age and experience. Employees at higher positions appear to experience more stress; this might be because they have more responsibility both personally and within the business as a result of positional shift. People who hold higher positions in a business often experience more stress due to the increased demands and challenges that come with their role. Employees must psychologically prepare for higher stress as the workload increase. Employees' tension will not reduce even if they are highly rewarded.[14]

In the present study, BMI was found to be 24.09 ± 5.64. According to a study conducted by Herman Y.L. Wihastyoko et al. to examine the correlation between body mass index (BMI) profile and work from home (WFH) Frequency, it was found that individuals with a frequent WFH routine had a higher likelihood of being overweight, with BMI ranging between 25 and 29. 9. It could be caused by physical inactivity due to long duration of sitting, high stress, and short sleep duration. Long work also reduces a person's opportunity to do their physical activity.[15] Low physical activity, obesity, and psychological stress can increase the risk of developing noncommunicable diseases.[12]

People in the information technology field who often take shorter breaks during work hours and who work more than 5 days per week and 8 h each day have more musculoskeletal disorders than others.[16] Long-term computer use can lead to medical and psychological problems like high blood pressure and mood swings. Effects of occupational stress caused by human-computer contact include increased physiological arousal, bodily complaints, mood swings, worry, fear, and anger, as well as a reduction in the quality of one's working life.

Women working in IT are under a lot of stress. Numerous mental, emotional, and physical conditions have stress as their primary contributing factor. In the IT sector, it is common for female workers to face the dual challenge of managing work responsibilities while also tending to the needs of their children, ageing parents, and other household tasks.[14] Balancing these multiple roles can become quite challenging, making it difficult to maintain harmony between work and personal life. When work and personal life are not in sync, it can have a negative impact on their happiness and potentially lead to burnout.

Animal and human studies suggest that depression is caused by glucocorticoids, which are stress hormones, being dysregulated. Chronically high amounts of stress hormones may be directly neurotoxic to the brain, especially to the hippocampus, and may result in the downregulation of the glucocorticoid receptor.[17] Individuals' perceived incapacity to control their stressful and unpleasant working environments triggers psychological processes such as feelings of helplessness.[18] Work stress could be linked to poor mental health through behavioral factors such as an inability to engage in leisure activities and maintain strong social networks that can be the reason for developing mental stress among the workers.[19]

Professionally stressed IT professionals are at 10 times higher risk for developing depression.[20] A study on job stress during WFH in the IT industry by Ranjit and Akhila has identified different stressors of WFH. It includes too much work allotted to finish, repetitive and monotonous work, change in the working environment, extended working hours, too much distraction, and social isolation. Since the employees are working away from the office, they are not easily connected with their coworkers as if they are in the office during offline work; thus, they are socially isolated from their coworkers. This also increases the stress on the employee.[21]

Our study showed the level of burnout among IT professionals. Higher rates of work-related stress can significantly increase the incidence of other health disorders. By implementing preventive strategies such as stress management training, relaxation techniques, activity scheduling, incorporating leisure activities, and making lifestyle modifications, IT workers can potentially manage work-related stress more effectively. This can be achieved by recognizing and addressing stress and depression in their early stages, enabling them to take appropriate actions without negatively impacting their lifestyle and overall health.

  Conclusion Top

Our study suggests that the prevalence rate of burnout syndrome is high among information technology professionals those who WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may also associate with other disorders. Burnout syndrome results from unresolved stress. Early detection, as well as behavioral and psychological intervention, is necessary for the physical, mental, and social well-being of the individual.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
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  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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