Can the Maslach Burnout Inventory and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale be used to screen for risk of long-term sickness absence?

C. A. M. Roelen*, M. F. A. van Hoffen, J. W. Groothoff, J. de Bruin, W. B. Schaufeli, W. van Rhenen

*Corresponding author for this work

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To investigate the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS) and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) for their ability to identify non-sicklisted employees at increased risk of long-term sickness absence (LTSA).

One-year prospective cohort study including 4,921 employees participating in occupational health surveys in the period 2008-2010. The MBI-GS and UWES were part of the health survey questionnaire and LTSA in the year following the health survey was retrieved from an occupational health register. Associations of baseline MBI-GS and UWES scores with LTSA during 1-year follow-up were stratified by the cause (mental, musculoskeletal, and other somatic illness) of LTSA. Discrimination was assessed by the area (AUC) under the receiver operating characteristic curve and considered practically useful for AUC a parts per thousand yen0.75.

During 1-year follow-up, 103 employees (2 %) had LTSA due to mental (N = 43), musculoskeletal (N = 31), or other somatic (N = 29) illness. MBI-GS scores were positively and UWES scores negatively associated with mental LTSA, but not musculoskeletal or other somatic LTSA. Discrimination between employees at high and low risk of mental LTSA was moderate: AUC = 0.68 for the MBI-GS and AUC = 0.70 for the UWES. Discrimination did not improve when the MBI-GS and UWES were used simultaneously.

The MBI-GS and UWES predicted future mental LTSA in non-sicklisted employees, but discrimination was not practically useful for identifying employees at high risk of LTSA. However, both instruments could be used to select employees for further assessment of mental LTSA risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-475
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May-2015


  • Absenteeism
  • Mental health
  • Prognostic research
  • Risk factor screening
  • ROC analysis
  • Sick leave

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