Design and validation of an electrophysiological based tool to assess chronic stress. Case study: burnout syndrome in caregivers

Sira Aguiló Mir, Esther García Pagès*, Beatriz López Barbeito, Thais Castro Ribeiro, Jorge M. Garzón-Rey, Jordi Aguiló Llobet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Caregiver burnout syndrome is an increasingly seen condition, although the subjective nature of self-administered psychometric tests and the lack of a consensual diagnostic tool might hinder a proper diagnosis. The availability of objective psychosomatic measures of stress might facilitate the early diagnosis and clinical management of these patients. For this reason, the aim of this work was to develop a quantitative tool to evaluate the stress level of caregivers in a noninvasive and repeatable manner. An observational, controlled, matched study was designed including a group of 38 principal caregivers of chronic patients and a control group of 38 non-caregivers. Psychometric, biochemical, and electrophysiological data were analyzed along with sociodemographic data. A quantitative chronic stress reference scale (CSRs) was constructed based on the weighted contribution of several psychometric and biochemical variables and afterwards, a predictive psychosomatic model (ESBSm) correlated with CSRs was elaborated from extracted variables of several electrophysiological signals monitored for 10 min. The resulting CSR scale shows a high power to discriminate caregivers from the control group while the ESBSm shows a 79% correlation with the CSR scale validated through a 5-fold process. Therefore, the results demonstrate that the ESBS model is an objective and validated tool to diagnose the degree of stress linked to burnout in caregivers of chronic patients from a 10-min session of noninvasive monitoring with a reliability equivalent to the questionnaires currently used to quantify stress in caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2020


  • burnout syndrome
  • caregiver
  • Chronic stress
  • electrophysiological signals
  • heart rate variability
  • stress biomarkers


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