The Maslach Burnout Inventory – Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS): factor structure, wording effect and psychometric qualities of known problematic items

Empirical Research
By Florent Lheureux, Didier Truchot, Xavier Borteyrou, Nicole Rascle

This article concerns the measurement of burnout among human services professionals through its most widely used measure: the Maslach Burnout Inventory – Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS). In particular, it deals with its factor structure, the inclusion or non-inclusion of the personal accomplishment construct in burnout conceptualization (and measurement), the possibility of a “wording effect” in respondents’ answers, as well as the issue of known problematic items. A large sample (N = 2357) of French healthcare providers answered the French version of the MBI-HSS. A sub-sample (n = 1824) also completed the General Health Questionnaire 12-item version (GHQ-12). Exploratory factor analysis was first used to analyze the data. Then, four theoretical models were tested through confirmatory factor analysis on complete and shortened versions of the scale. The cross-validation procedure was used to assess model invariance across two random sub-samples. The GHQ-12 enabled the nomological validity of the three MBI sub-scales to be tested. The results confirmed the three-factor structure but called into question the inclusion of personal accomplishment in the conceptualization/measurement of burnout. However, they also corroborated the existence of a “wording effect” that blurs the “true” relationships between the burnout constructs. Thus, the development of a new version of the MBI-HSS using bipolar scales is recommended. Finally, these analyses suggest the removal of two to five items, a 17-item version appeared to be the most satisfactory.


  • Burnout measurement
  • Factor structure
  • Wording effect
  • Cross-validation
  • Nomological validity
  • Item removal
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