Medicina (Kaunas) 2010; 46 (9): 628-634

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Sickness, colleagues’ harassment in teachers’ work and emotional exhaustion

Milda Astrauskaitė1, Aidas Perminas2, Roy M. Kern1

1Department of Theoretical Psychology, Vytautas Magnus University, 2Department of General Psychology, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania

Key words: work harassment; emotional exhaustion; sickness absence; teachers.

Summary. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship among colleagues’ harassment, emotional exhaustion, and sickness absence with a sample of teachers.

Material and methods. The sample consisted of 351 teachers from 8 secondary schools in Kaunas. Instruments used in the study included the Work Harassment Scale (WHS) developed by Björkqvist and Österman (1992), the Emotional Exhaustion Scale (the MBI-ES) by Maslach et al. (1996), and a questionnaire of demographic information.

Results. Data analysis indicated that a higher level of work harassment was related to higher emotional exhaustion. Regression analysis findings indicated that a higher level of emotional exhaustion was related to higher levels of disruption, humiliation, alienation, and indignity. Teachers who observed harassment reported higher levels of emotional exhaustion. Respondents who missed work due to illness reported higher levels of disruption on the WHS.

Conclusions. The study indicated that work harassment could be an important aspect in teacher’s health. The seriousness of the work harassment phenomenon may be supported by the results showing that teachers who witnessed others being harassed experienced a higher level of emotional exhaustion. The phenomenon appears to be an area that requires additional research.

Correspondence to M. Astrauskaitė, Department of Theoretical Psychology, Vytautas Magnus University, K. Donelaičio 52, 44244 Kaunas, Lithuania. E-mail:

Received 11 June 2009, accepted 6 September 2010