The potential of green programmes for the rehabilitation of young employees with burnout: a salutogenic approach

Burnout is an increasing occupational disease in the Netherlands, particularly among young employees (18–30), with associated sick-leave costs of around €1.8 billion. Although the development of burnout is fostered through a complex interplay between psychological, environmental, and societal factors, current guidelines used by general practitioners emphasize individual-level approaches. These approaches are important but suboptimal in both reducing burnout complaints and promoting a sustainable return to work. Moreover, although research on burnout started in the early 1970s, still little is known about what constitutes effective rehabilitation.

Simultaneously, a growing number of studies suggest that so-called green programmes are suitable for rehabilitation. Green programmes combine aspects of healthcare with, for instance, agriculture, gardening, and landscape/nature conservation. Although green programmes are diverse, studies have shown their possibilities for addressing individual factors (e.g., physical and mental wellbeing, reflection) as well as environmental conditions (e.g., social contacts). Hence, the overarching aim of this thesis is to explore the potential of green programmes for the rehabilitation of young employees with burnout in the Netherlands.

This thesis aims explicitly to (1) assess the effectiveness, and factors influencing the effectiveness, of existing rehabilitation programmes; (2) understand how young employees develop burnout and rehabilitate throughout the lifecourse using their perspective; (3) examine how green programmes are developed and the extent to which they capture mechanisms underlying rehabilitation as identified in the first two objectives; and (4) evaluate the effectiveness and the process of green programmes on the rehabilitation of young employees. A mixed-methods approach will be used.