Occupational Stress and Professional Burnout in Teachers of Primary and Secondary Education: The Role of Coping Strategies


This research investigates the levels of occupational stress and professional burnout of teachers of primary and secondary education. It also aims to investigate the coping strategies that they adopt, and the relationship between them. The survey involved 388 teachers who teach in public schools in Attica. Three instruments were administrated to teachers: “Teachers’ Occupational Stress” (Antoniou, Polychroni, & Vlachakis, 2006), the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach & Jackson, 1986) and the “Stress Coping Strategies Scale” (Cooper, Sloan, & Williams, 1988). The findings showed that teachers of Primary Education experience higher levels of stress compared to the teachers of Secondary Education. Female teachers experience more stress and lower personal accomplishment than men. Rational coping behaviors are a resource which help teachers overcome work-related stressors and burnout and achieve their valued outcomes with students, while avoidance coping predicted high level of stress and burnout.

Share and Cite:

Antoniou, A. , Ploumpi, A. & Ntalla, M. (2013). Occupational Stress and Professional Burnout in Teachers of Primary and Secondary Education: The Role of Coping Strategies. Psychology, 4, 349-355. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.43A051.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Admiraal, W. F., Korthagen, F. A. J., & Wubbels, T. (2000). Effects of student-teachers’ coping behavior. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 33-52. doi:10.1348/000709900157958
[2] Anderson, M. B., & Iwanicki, E. F. (1984). Teacher motivation and its relationship to burnout. Educational Administration Quarterly, 20, 94-132. doi:10.1177/0013161X84020002007
[3] Antoniou, A. S., Polychroni, F., & Vlachakis, A. N. (2006). Gender and age differences in occupational stress and professional burnout between primary and high-school teachers in Greece. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21, 682-690. doi:10.1108/02683940610690213
[4] Austin, V., Shah, S., & Muncer, S. (2005). Teacher stress and coping strategies used to reduce stress. Occupational Therapy International, 12, 63-80. doi:10.1002/oti.16
[5] Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Euwema, M. (2005). Job resources buffer the impact of job demands on burnout. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 10, 170-180. doi:10.1037/1076-8998.10.2.170
[6] Betoret, F. D., & Artiga, A. G. (2010). Barriers perceived by teachers at work, coping strategies, self-efficacy and burnout. Spanish Journal of Psychology, 13, 637-654.
[7] Brenner, S. O., Sorbom, D., & Wallius, E. (1985). The stress chain: A longitudinal confirmatory study of teacher stress, coping, and social support. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 58, 1-13. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8325.1985.tb00175.x
[8] Burke, R. J., Greenglass, E. R., & Schwarzer, R. (1996). Predicting teacher burnout over time: effects of work stress, social support, and self-doubts on burnout and its consequences. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 9, 261-275. doi:10.1080/10615809608249406
[9] Chan, D. W. (1998). Stress, Coping strategies, and psychological distress among secondary school teachers in Hong Kong. American Educational Research Journal, 35, 145-163.
[10] Conroy, J. C. (2004). Betwixt and between: The liminal imagination, education and democracy. New York: Peter Lang.
[11] Cooper, C. L., Sloan, S. L., & Williams, S. L. (1988). Occupational stress indicator management guide. Windsor: Nfer-Nelson.
[12] Fernet, C., Guay, F., Senectal, C., & Austin, S. (2012). Predicting intraindividual changes in teacher burnout: The role of perceived school environment and motivational factors. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 514-525. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2011.11.013
[13] Friedman, I. A. (2000). Burnout in teachers: Shattered dreams of impeccable professional performance. JCLP/In Session: Psychotherapy in Practice, 56, 595-606.
[14] Goddard, R., O’Brien, P., & Goddard, M. (2006). Work environment predictors of beginning teacher burnout. British Educational Research Journal, 32, 857-874. doi:10.1080/01411920600989511
[15] Griva, K., & Joekes, K. (2003). UK teachers under stress: can we predict wellness on the basis of characteristics of the teaching job? Psychology and Health, 18, 457-471. doi:10.1080/0887044031000147193
[16] Izgar, H. (2003). Burnout at school directors. Ankara: Nobel Yayin Dagitim.
[17] Kantas, A. (1995). Group processes-conflict-development and change-culture-occupational stress. Athens: Greek Letters.
[18] Kantas, A. (1996). The burnout syndrome of teachers and people who work to health professionals. Psychology, 3, 71-85.
[19] Kantas, A. (2001). The anxiety factors and the burnout of teachers. In E. Vasilaki, S. Triliva, & E. Besevegis (Ed.), (pp. 217-229). Athens: Greek Letters.
[20] Lau, P. S. Y. M., Yuen, M. T., & Chan, R. M. C. (2005). Do demographic characteristics make a difference to burnout among Hong Kong secondary school teachers? Social Indicators Research, 71, 491-516. doi:10.1007/s11205-004-8033-z
[21] Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.
[22] Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion: A new synthesis. New York: Springer Publishing Co.
[23] Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1986). Maslach burnout inventory manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
[24] Maslach, C., Jackson, S. E., & Leiter, M. (1996). Maslach burnout inventory manual (3rd ed.). Palo Alot, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
[25] Mearns, J., & Cain, J. E. (2003). Relationships between teachers’ occupational stress and their burnout and distress: Roles of coping and negative mood regulation expectancies. Anxiety, Stress and Coping, 16, 71-82. doi:10.1080/1061580021000057040
[26] Mo, K. W. (1991). Teacher burnout: Relations with stress, personality, and social support. Education Journal, 19, 3-12.
[27] Montgomery, C., & Rupp, A. (2005). A meta-analysis for exploring the diverse causes and effects of stress in teachers. Canadian Journal of Education, 28, 461-488. doi:10.2307/4126479
[28] Olivier, M., & Williams, E. (2005). Teaching the mentally handicapped child: Challenges teachers are facing. The International Journal of Special Education, 20, 19 -31.
[29] Papastylianou, A., Kaila, M., & Polychronopoulos, M. (2009). Teachers’ burnout, depression, role ambiguity and conflict. Social Psychology of Education, 12, 295-314. doi:10.1007/s11218-008-9086-7
[30] Pines, A. M., & Ronen, S. (2011). Gender differences in burnout. In A. S. Antoniou, & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), New directions in organizational psychology and behavioral medicine (pp. 107-122). Burlington: Gower Publishing Company.
[31] Polychroni, F., & Antoniou, A. S. (2006). Occupational stress and burn-out of Greek teachers of primary and secondary education. In X. F. Papailiou, G. Ksanthakou, & S. Xatzichristou (Eds.), Educational and school psychology (pp. 161-186). Athens: Atrapos.
[32] Pomaki, Y., & Anagnostopoulou, T. (2003). A test and extension of the demand/control/social support model: Prediction of health- and work-related outcomes in Greek teachers. Psychology and Health, 18, 537-550. doi:10.1080/0887044031000147256
[33] Riolli, L., & Savicki, V. (2002). Optimism and coping as moderators of the relationship between chronic stress and burnout. Psychological Repairing, 92, 1215-1226. doi:10.2466/PR0.92.3.1215-1226
[34] Rout, U. R., & Rout, J. K. (2002). Stress management for primary health professionals. New York: Kluwer Acadamic/Plenum Publishers.
[35] Schwab, R., Jackson, S., & Schuler, R. (1986). Educator burnout: Sources and consequences. Educational Research Quarterly, 10, 14-30.
[36] Steyn, G. M., & Kamper, G. D. (2006). Understanding occupational stress among educators: an overview. Africa Education Review, 3, 113-133. doi:10.1080/18146620608540446
[37] Tsiakkiros, A., & Pasiardis, P. (2002). Occupational stress of teachers and school principals. Paidagogical Review, 33, 195-213.
[38] Van Horn, J. E., Schaufeli, W. B., & Taris, T. W. (2001). Lack of reciprocity among Dutch teachers: Validation of reciprocity indices and their relation to stress and well-being. Work and Stress, 15, 191-213. doi:10.1080/02678370110066571
[39] Yavuz, M. (2009). An investigation of burn-out levels of teachers working in elementary and secondary educational institutions and their attitudes to classroom management. Educational Research and Reviews, 4, 642-649.
[40] Zhao, J. L., & Bi, H. H. (2003). On the completeness of logic-based workflow verification. Proceedings of the Thirteenth Workshop on Information Technologies and Systems (WITS 2003), Seattle, WA, 13-14 December, 73-78

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.