Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting
Publication status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Burnout has been observed globally and is associated with numerous negative consequences ranging from depression, anxiety, low levels of self-esteem and well-being to decreased job performance and job turnover. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) may be helpful to reduce burnout-associated suffering. Individual therapy – especially ACT – is not always feasible, available, or accessible. Self-help books may be possible alternatives. However, these need to be tested rigorously before they can be used as part of a wider health-care framework. Therefore, this study aims to find out the effectiveness of a self-help book for burnout-based on ACT without any therapist contact by using an exclusively online platform.

Who can participate?
Adults who are shown to have moderate levels of stress can take part in this study.

What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of three groups. First groups get the self-help book immediately. The second and third group receive the book after a waiting period of 6 weeks, with or without assessments respectively during that period. Participants receive a copy of a self-help book for dealing with burnout from an ACT perspective. Upon receiving the book, they log into the online assessment platform. Participants complete online questions before reading the book, after every chapter, immediately after finishing the book, and 3 months after reading the book. As described in the chapters of the book, participants are encouraged to apply and exercise concepts discussed in the book.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Participants can potentially benefit by reducing suffering surrounding burnout symptoms. Potential risks include disappointment of not improving or temporary discomfort surrounding an exercise discussed in the book.

Where is the study run from?
The study is carried out in the participants homes.

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study started in November 2013 and runs until October 2014.

Who is funding the study?
Investigator initiated and funded (Switzerland)

Who is the main contact?
Dr Andrew Gloster

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Andrew Gloster


Contact details

Missionsstrasse 62a
University of Basel
Department of Psychology

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) self-help for burnout: a randomized controlled trial


Study hypothesis

Participants engaging with the ACT self-help book will have significantly greater pre-post improvement in perceived stress and burnout symptoms than the wait-list groups.

Ethics approval

Regional ethics committee Ethikkommission beider Basel (EKBB), 10/07/2013, ref: EK 336/12

Study design

Randomized controlled wait-list trial with three groups

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Burnout is a syndrome consisting of three dimensions: overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, and subjective sense of ineffectiveness/lack of accomplishment.


The self-help book 'ACT gegen Burnout' by Michael Waadt and Jens Acker. The book presents principles and techniques derived from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). No additional therapeutic contact is provided.

The study is a randomized, wait-list controlled clinical trial. All assessments occur exclusively online and are measured at pretreatment, post-treatment, 3-month follow-up, and during the time that the participants are working through the self-help book.

Randomization will made to one of three groups:
1. Immediate ACT self-help book condition
2. A 6-week wait-list with weekly assessments during the waiting period
3. A 6-week wait-list without weekly assessments during the waiting period.

Intervention type



Not Applicable

Drug names

Primary outcome measure

The primary symptom-based outcome measures will be:
1. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)
2. The Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey (MBI-GS)
Outcomes will be measured at baseline, post-treatment, and at 3-month follow-up.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Depression
2. Psychological flexibility
3. Process of psychological flexibility
4. Cognitive fusion
5. Mindfulness
6. Emotion regulation
7. Problematic emotion regulation
8. Flourishing mental health/well-being
9. Values
10. Comprehension
Outcomes will be measured at baseline, post-treatment, and at 3-month follow-up.

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. 18-65 years of age
2. Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) score greater than or equal to 17 (at least moderate levels of perceived stress)
3. No active current suicidal intent (as measured by the BDI-II suicide item no. 9 less than or equal to 1)

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Total final enrolment


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Less than 18 or over 65 years of age
2. Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) score less than 17
3. Current suicidal intent (as measured by the BDI-II suicide item no. 9 greater than 1)
4. Current psychotherapy

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment


Trial participating centre

Missionsstrasse 62a

Sponsor information


University of Basel (Switzerland)

Sponsor details

c/o Dr Andrew Gloster
Missionsstrasse 62a
University of Basel
Department of Psychology

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

Investigator initiated and funded (Switzerland)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

2017 results in (added 03/06/2020)

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

03/06/2020: The following changes have been made: 1. Publication reference added. 2. The final enrolment number has been added from the reference.