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Compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress among full-time veterinarians in the United States (2016–2018)

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  • 1 Veterinary Economics, Divisions, AVMA, Schaumburg, IL 60173.
  • | 2 Publications, Divisions, AVMA, Schaumburg, IL 60173.
  • | 3 Department of Agricultural Economics, Ferguson College of Agriculture, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74076.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine prevalences of low compassion satisfaction (CS), high burnout (BO), and high secondary traumatic stress (STS) scores among full-time US veterinarians and estimate effects of selected demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors on those scores.

SAMPLE

5,020 full-time veterinarians who participated in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 AVMA Census of Veterinarians surveys.

PROCEDURES

Data were obtained from census surveys regarding demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors, and scores assigned to items from a professional quality-of-life instrument designed to measure CS and compassion fatigue (ie, BO and STS) were compared between and among various demographic and employment groups.

RESULTS

Overall, 35.5% of veterinarians were classified as having low CS scores, 50.2% as having high BO scores, and 58.9% as having high STS scores. Controlling for other variables, high educational debt was associated with low CS, high BO, and high STS scores. Veterinarians who spent ≥ 75% of their time working with dogs or cats had higher BO and STS scores than did those who spent < 25% of their time. Veterinarians with more experience and higher annual incomes had higher CS scores and lower BO and STS scores. Women had higher BO and STS scores than did men, but no gender differences were observed in CS scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Several variables were identified that may put veterinarians at higher risk than others for compassion fatigue and low CS. These findings may be useful in the development of resources and targeted initiatives to support and defend veterinarian well-being.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine prevalences of low compassion satisfaction (CS), high burnout (BO), and high secondary traumatic stress (STS) scores among full-time US veterinarians and estimate effects of selected demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors on those scores.

SAMPLE

5,020 full-time veterinarians who participated in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 AVMA Census of Veterinarians surveys.

PROCEDURES

Data were obtained from census surveys regarding demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors, and scores assigned to items from a professional quality-of-life instrument designed to measure CS and compassion fatigue (ie, BO and STS) were compared between and among various demographic and employment groups.

RESULTS

Overall, 35.5% of veterinarians were classified as having low CS scores, 50.2% as having high BO scores, and 58.9% as having high STS scores. Controlling for other variables, high educational debt was associated with low CS, high BO, and high STS scores. Veterinarians who spent ≥ 75% of their time working with dogs or cats had higher BO and STS scores than did those who spent < 25% of their time. Veterinarians with more experience and higher annual incomes had higher CS scores and lower BO and STS scores. Women had higher BO and STS scores than did men, but no gender differences were observed in CS scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Several variables were identified that may put veterinarians at higher risk than others for compassion fatigue and low CS. These findings may be useful in the development of resources and targeted initiatives to support and defend veterinarian well-being.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Ouedraogo (fouedraogo@avma.org).