The Gulf War and its impact on burnout and well-being of working civilians

Talma Kushnir, Samuel Melamed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Burnout signifies the chronic depletion of coping resources following prolonged exposure to emotionally charged demands. It is manifested by symptoms of emotional, physical and cognitive exhaustion, and is usually studied in relation to occupational stressors. We hypothesized that the major life crisis engendered by missile attacks would give rise to burnout or exacerbate preexisting burnout symptoms. We also hypothesized that individuals suffering from prewar burnout would appraise the war as being more threatening and would be more vulnerable to upper respiratory infections (URI). Wartime and pre-war (baseline) levels of burnout and related symptomatology (cognitive weariness, listlessness, tension and somatic complaints) were compared among 162 Israeli civilians who carried on with their employment duties throughout the Gulf War. We found that the war impacted primarily on younger individuals (age < 45). All the pre-war levels of the above measures increased significantly (except for a marginal increase in tension). The impact of the war was mediated by threat appraisal, as indicated by worry and apprehension. Worry was positively associated with pre-war burnout, and negatively with age and education. Pre-war burnout was associated positively with wartime URIs. It was concluded that the war accelerated the depletion of coping resources and that burnout may be affected by factors other than occupational stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-995
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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