Noel Takeuchi, Ph.D. Instructor, College of Arts and Sciences
Mark J. Walters, D.V.M. Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
Thomas W. Smith, Ph.D. Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
The suicide rate for veterinarians has been steadily increasing over the last half-century, both across America and the world. However, there is a lack of awareness in the veterinary field regarding this issue as well as what increases veterinarians risk for suicidal ideation. The purpose of this study was to examine what work-related stressors are most common and most influential in the field of veterinary medicine in order to understand the underlying causes of the increased suicide rate among veterinarians. A Qualtrics© made questionnaire was sent through email messaging to 107 Pinellas County veterinarians from September 17 to October 22, 2018. Personal information that would allow for identification of responses, including IP addresses, was excluded in order to maintain anonymity. The survey included demographics questions sampling gender, race, age, years practicing, location of practice, position in the veterinary field, and type of veterinary medicine being practiced. The questionnaire also asked about job satisfaction, future occupational plans, occupational influence on mental health, and awareness of mental health in the veterinary field. Participants ranked stressors known to increase susceptibility to suicidal ideation on a 1-7 Likert Scale from two perspectives: on prevalence in the veterinary field, and on the effect that each professional stressor had on their personal health. The most influential stressors on the respondents’ personal health were found to be client complaints and client expectations, which were also ranked 3rd and 4th in prevalence in the field. This suggests client relations are one of the major stressors in the veterinary field and could be prominent in the increasing suicide rate. Occupational burnout, demands of the practice, and practice management responsibilities were also highly ranked in both prevalence and influence. However, familiarity with euthanasia was ranked 8th in prevalence and 12th in influence, thus suggesting familiarity with euthanasia has very little effect on the mental health of veterinarians.This data is useful in spreading awareness of the increased suicide rate in the veterinary field and also reveals information on the possible stressors specific to the veterinary field. Understanding occupational stressors can help prepare future veterinarians for potential obstacles they may encounter while in practice, and stress the importance of the implementation and improvement of veterinary specific wellness programs.
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Winemiller, Mary L., "A Preliminary Study of Mental Health and Wellness in the Veterinary Field in Pinellas County Florida" (2018). USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate).