Can meaning buffer work pressure? An exploratory study on styles of meaning in life and burnout in firefighters
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Opole University
Dariusz Krok   

Opole University, ul. Drzymały 1a, 45-342 Opole, Poland
Submission date: 2016-02-17
Acceptance date: 2016-03-13
Publication date: 2016-05-01
Arch Psych Psych 2016;18(1):31–42
Aim of the study:
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationships between different dimensions of meaning in life and burnout among firefighters. The relationships between personal meaning, presence of meaning, search for meaning, and burnout are to be examined. In addition, the differences in the firefighters’ level of burnout are to be evaluated within three styles of meaning in life.

Subject or material and methods:
Participants were 189 Polish firefighters who participated in the study voluntarily. The age ranged from 20 to 50 years and the mean age was 33.04 years (SD = 7.87). The participants were randomly recruited from twelve fire stations located in southern parts of Poland. They filled in the following questionnaires: the Personal Meaning Profile, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory.

Firefighters with higher levels of personal meaning and presence of meaning reported less emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, and more personal accomplishment. Most of the personal meaning dimensions also had significant associations with the burnout indicators. Individuals in detached style had higher levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization than individuals in presence style and presence and search style.

Meaning structures are an important salutary factor that enables firefighters to effectively comprehend and interpret their work-related experiences, and thus reduces the likelihood of distress and weariness. Search for meaning has beneficial effects on burnout consequences among firefighters only if it is linked with presence of meaning.

Valuable goals and purposes endow individuals with meaningful experiences which form the building blocks of meaning in life that neutralize burnout processes.