A1 Journal article (refereed)
A psychological flexibility -based intervention for burnout : A randomized controlled trial (2020)

Puolakanaho, A., Tolvanen, A., Kinnunen, S. M., & Lappalainen, R. (2020). A psychological flexibility -based intervention for burnout : A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 15, 52-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcbs.2019.11.007

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsPuolakanaho, Anne; Tolvanen, Asko; Kinnunen, Sanna M.; Lappalainen, Raimo

Journal or seriesJournal of Contextual Behavioral Science



Publication year2020


Pages range52-67

PublisherElsevier BV

Publication countryNetherlands

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessNot open

Publication channel open access

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66857


A novel eight-week program based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) principles was created to alleviate burnout-related ill-being and to enhance well-being. This randomized controlled trial investigated the effectiveness of the program and explored whether changes in psychological flexibility mediated the results of the intervention. The program consisted of structured weekly face-to-face group meetings and daily practices provided via a website. Employees from varying professional backgrounds with burnout (mean age = 47 years, 79% female), who all received usual treatment, 1 were randomized into control (TAU, n = 80, receiving no other support) and ACT + TAU intervention (n = 88, receiving additional ACT support) groups. The ACT + TAU group outperformed the TAU group in all 14 scales used, indicating that burnout-related ill-being at work (between-group Cohen's d = 0.36–0.76) and psychological symptoms (d = 0.27–0.61) decreased and general well-being (d = 0.14–0.38) and psychological flexibility skills (d = 0.29–0.64) increased during the intervention. These gains were maintained during the one-year follow-up period. The changes in the psychological flexibility -factor mediated almost completely the changes in the outcome factors of burnout, well-being, and psychological symptoms. The study suggests that psychological flexibility skills can be crucial elements in job-related burnout interventions and that combined group and web-based interventions may offer an efficient treatment method.

Keywordsacceptance and commitment therapymindfulnessexhaustionstress (biological phenomena)

Free keywordsacceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR); psychological flexibility; burnout; stress; well-being; psychological symptoms

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2020

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-22-04 at 12:36