To explore associations between demographic, occupational, and mental health characteristics and negative attitudes toward mental illness among veterinarians.
9,522 veterinarians employed in the United States.
Data from a previously conducted voluntary, anonymous, web-based survey were used. Negative attitude was defined as slight or strong disagreement with 2 statements: “Treatment can help people with mental illness lead normal lives” (treatment effectiveness) and “People are generally caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness” (social support). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify variables associated with negative attitudes.
Of the 9,522 respondents, 6,585 (69.2%) were female, 4,523 (47.5%) were 40 to 59 years old, 291 (3.1%) had a negative attitude toward treatment effectiveness, and 4,504 (47.3%) had a negative attitude toward social support. After adjusting for other variables, negative attitude toward treatment effectiveness was significantly more likely in males, those with 10 to 19 (vs 1 to 9) years of practice experience, solo practitioners, those in government (vs “other”) practice, those with evidence of serious psychological distress, and those reporting suicidal ideation after veterinary school and significantly less likely in those receiving mental health treatment. A negative attitude toward social support was significantly less likely in males and significantly more likely in 40 to 59 (vs 20 to 39) year olds, childless respondents, solo practitioners, those without membership in a veterinary association, those with evidence of serious psychological distress, those reporting depression during or after veterinary school, and those reporting suicidal ideation after veterinary school.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Characteristics such as age, sex, practice setting, and mental illness history might be useful to consider when targeting interventions to support and educate veterinarians about mental illness.