OBJECTIVE To identify the scope of occupational hazards encountered by veterinary personnel and compare hazard exposures between veterinarians and technicians working in small and large animal practices.
DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.
POPULATION Licensed veterinarians and veterinary staff in Minnesota.
PROCEDURES A survey of Minnesota veterinary personnel was conducted between February 1 and December 1, 2012. Adult veterinary personnel working in clinical practice for > 12 months were eligible to participate. Information was collected on various workplace hazards as well as on workplace safety culture.
RESULTS 831 eligible people responded, representing approximately 10% of Minnesota veterinary personnel. A greater proportion of veterinarians (93%; 368/394) reported having received preexposure rabies vaccinations than did veterinary technicians (54%; 198/365). During their career, 226 (27%) respondents had acquired at least 1 zoonotic infection and 636 (77%) had been injured by a needle or other sharps. Recapping of needles was reported by 87% of respondents; the most common reason reported by veterinarians (41%; 142/345) and veterinary technicians (71%; 238/333) was being trained to do so at school or work. Recent feelings of depression were reported by 204 (25%) respondents. A greater proportion of technicians (42%; 155/365) than veterinarians (21%; 81/394) indicated working in an environment in which employees experienced some form of workplace abuse.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Veterinary personnel in Minnesota were exposed to several work-related hazards. Practice staff should assess workplace hazards, implement controls, and incorporate instruction on occupational health into employee training.
Objective—To evaluate the prevalence of suicide risk factors, attitudes toward mental illness, and practice-related stressors among US veterinarians.
Sample—11,627 US veterinarians.
Procedures—Between July 1 and October 20, 2014, a Web-based questionnaire was made available through the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), VIN News Service, JAVMA News, and email messages to US veterinarians sent by a veterinary medical association, agriculture or livestock department, or health department of each state (except Maine) and Puerto Rico.
Results—Of 11,627 respondents, 3,628 (31%) were male. Modal age category was 30 to 39 years, and modal range for years practicing veterinary medicine was 10 to 19 years. There were 7,460 (64%) respondents who primarily practiced small animal medicine, and 4,224 (36%) who were practice owners. There were 1,077 (9%) respondents with current serious psychological distress. Since leaving veterinary school, 3,655 (31%) respondents experienced depressive episodes, 1,952 (17%) experienced suicidal ideation, and 157 (1%) attempted suicide. Currently, 2,228 (19%) respondents were receiving treatment for a mental health condition. Only 3,250 of 10,220 (32%) respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that people are sympathetic toward persons with mental illness. The most commonly reported practice-related stressor was demands of practice.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In this survey, approximately 1 in 11 veterinarians had serious psychological distress and 1 in 6 experienced suicidal ideation since leaving veterinary school. Implementing measures to help veterinarians cope with practice-related stressors and reducing barriers veterinarians face in seeking mental health treatment might reduce the risk for suicide among veterinarians.