Combined Interventions to Reduce Burnout Complaints and Promote Return to Work: A Systematic Review of Effectiveness and Mediators of Change

Pijpker, Roald; Vaandrager, Lenneke; Veen, Esther J.; Koelen, Maria A.


Burnout has adverse effects on the health and work-related outcomes of employees. Nevertheless, little is known about effective ways of reducing burnout complaints and facilitating full return to work, which defines rehabilitation. This study consists of a systematic review of the effects of combined interventions (i.e., both person-directed and organization-directed). It also includes the identification and description of mediators of change, thereby explaining how combined interventions do or do not work. Seven electronic databases were searched for English peer-reviewed publications: the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection; PsycARTICLES; Web of Science; Scopus; SocINDEX; PubMed; and PsycINFO, using various combinations of search terms (e.g., burnout AND intervention). Out of 4110 abstracts published before 29 September, 2019, 10 studies (reporting the effects of nine combined interventions) fulfilled the inclusion criteria, which were defined using PICOS criteria (participants, interventions, comparators, outcomes and study design). Although the risk of bias of the included studies is high, all combined interventions were effective in facilitating rehabilitation. Results suggest that involving employees in decision-making and enhance their job control and social support, while eliminating stressors, explain the effectiveness of the intentions. With caution, workplace health promotion practitioners are encouraged to use these findings to tackle burnout among employees.