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  • Author or Editor: Stacy M. Holzbauer x
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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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To evaluate the prevalence of suicide risk factors, attitudes toward mental illness, and practice-related stressors among US veterinarians.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association