Emotional contagion and burnout among nurses and doctors: do joy and anger from different sources of stakeholders matter?

Laura Petitta, Lixin Jiang, Charmine E.J. Härtel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The present study adds novel knowledge to the literature on emotional contagion (EC), discrete emotions, job burnout, and the management of healthcare professionals by simultaneously considering EC as both a job demand and a job resource with multiple social pathways. Integrating EC into the job demands-resource model, we develop and test a conceptual model wherein multiple stakeholder sources of emotional exchanges (i.e., leaders, colleagues, patients) play a differential role in predicting caregivers' absorption of positive (i.e., joy) and negative (i.e., anger) emotions, and in turn, burnout. We tested this nomological network using structural equation modeling and invariance analyses on a sample of 252 nurses and 102 doctors from diverse healthcare wards in three Italian hospitals. Our findings show that not all emotional exchange sources contribute to the EC experience or likelihood of burnout. Specifically, we found that doctors absorbed joy and anger from their colleagues but not from their leaders or patients. In contrast, nurses absorbed joy and anger from leaders, colleagues, and patients. Surprisingly, we found that joy-absorbed and anger-absorbed were related to doctors' exhaustion and cynicism, but only to nurses' cynicism. We conclude with suggestions for advancing research and practice in the management of emotions for preventing burnout.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-369
Number of pages12
JournalStress and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • burnout and stress in healthcare professionals
  • emotion management interventions
  • Job demands-resource (JD-R) model and emotions
  • mapping emotional contagion

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