Burnout syndrome in seafarers in the merchant marine service
Purpose As seafarers face a wide range of psychosocial stressors on board, they may be endangered to develop burnout syndrome. This study aims to investigate respective indicators.
Methods In a cross-sectional study, 251 seafarers were asked about demographic data and job-related stressors. Particularly, the subscale emotional exhaustion (EE) of the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale were used to assess the respective risks of job-related burnout and daytime sleepiness among seafarers. The statistical analysis was carried out using multiple logistic regression.
Results Within the whole study group, the EE score was elevated in 10.8 %. A higher EE score was found in 10.7 % of officers, in 4.5 % of lower crew ranks and in 25.0 % of the galley staff (p = 0.05). Furthermore, long working days were associated with an elevated EE score [OR 3.83 (CI 1.46–10.03)]. Emotional exhaustion was associated with a subjective perception of enough sleep on board [OR 3.33 (CI 1.17–9.46)], lack of care taken by the shipboard superiors and/or the shipping company [OR 1.19 (CI 1.04–1.36)], with high responsibility for work organisation of those involved in leadership [OR 1.46 (CI 1.20–1.78)] and with social problems due to the long periods of separation from their families [OR 1.19 (CI 1.02–1.39)], taking into account relevant demographic parameters.
Conclusions Compared with the majority of on-shore occupations, the burnout risk in seafaring seems to be moderate. To reduce the EE among seafarers, it is recommended to extend the sleeping time, to avoid long working hours, to improve the superiors’ communication and leadership skills, to diminish the superiors’ stress load caused by organisational duties and to support low-price telecommunication possibilities at home.