Background: Burnout syndrome was first described in 1974 in two scientific articles by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, albeit imprecisely; he identified burnout as a work-related syndrome characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion and deficiency in work performance. In this study, we investigated burnout syndrome among students at Princess Nourah University (PNU), explored the possible factors associated with burnout, and evaluated the coping strategies employed by students to overcome burnout.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, the all-female sample population was recruited from different colleges affiliated with PNU in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from January to February 2019. The convenience sample included 250 students each from health care (HC) and non-health care (NHC) colleges. The questionnaire was based on the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Student Survey. Descriptive and analytical statistical analyses were performed to determine the results.
Results: The final sample comprised 500 students. The mean age (± standard deviation) was 20.78 ± 1.72 years. Most students (458; 91%) were single and lived with their families in Riyadh (467; 93%). Only 6.2% of the students exercised regularly. The overall burnout prevalence rate was 74%. A significant relationship was found between the level of satisfaction with college major and burnout components; students satisfied with
their major experienced low levels of academic burnout across three dimensions: emotional exhaustion (EE;p = 0.002), professional efficacy (PE; p = 0.000), and cynicism (CY; p = 0.000). Both HC (47.6%) and NHC (48%) college students achieved moderate academic results. Students with low coping strategies reported higher academic burnout: EE (p = 0.002), PE (p = 0.000), and CY (p = 0.000).
Conclusion: We demonstrated a high level of burnout among PNU students, necessitating the need for educational institutions to develop a support system to evaluate and improve students psychological health by teaching them better burnout coping strategies for good academic performance.
Key words: Burnout, emotional exhaustion, professional efficacy, cynicism