Nurses and teachers have among the most stressful jobs in the country but new research shows that office workers find it much more difficult to cope and are twice as likely to "burn out" and give up their jobs.

Nurses and teachers have among the most stressful jobs in the country but new research shows that office workers find it much more difficult to cope and are twice as likely to "burn out" and give up their jobs.

Contrary to the popular belief that those working inschools and hospitals are most at risk from emotional exhaustion, it is a lack of human contact at work that leads to people breaking down and giving up their careers.

An international study of nearly 90,000 workers has identified the top seven jobs which cause the modern-day phenomenon of "burn-out". They are: 1. Industry and manufacturing workers; 2. Council office workers; 3. Managers, administrators and supervisors; 4. Parole, probation and prison officers; 5. Teachers; 6. Social workers; 7. Nurses.

Vivian Collins, a professor in psychology from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and co-author of the study, said that the volume of work was not the biggest cause of "burn-out" and emotional exhaustion. The sheer workload and long hours culture of the British workplace does not increase the likelihood of burn-out, she said.

"It is a lack of knowing exactly what is expected of you, having a range of conflicting roles and being made to think that your actions will not make a difference that leads to burn-out," she said.

Compensation claims in Britain have increased in the past five years, with growing numbers of people finding they can no longer cope at work.

Professor Collins said people who had chosen jobs such as nursing or teaching had more commitment to their profession, so had developed ways of coping with the stresses and demands of the job.

"Burn-out is costly. It has been linked to an increase in absenteeism and staff turnover, reduced productivity, ineffectiveness, reduced creativity and alcohol and drug abuse," she said.

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