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Aust Vet J. 2004 Jun;82(6):346-50.

Occupational health risks in veterinary nursing: an exploratory study.

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  • 1School of Population Health, M435, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009.



The aims of this exploratory study were to survey the prevalence of certain exposures and health problems among a group of veterinary nurses attending the International Veterinary Nurses' Conference in Brisbane, Australia, 2003 and to identify the main concerns among those veterinary nurses with regard to occupational health hazards they may face.


An anonymous self-administered questionnaire was distributed among all attendees of the International Veterinary Nurses' Conference 2003, Brisbane, Australia (N=147 respondents among 215 surveyed).


The prevalence of exposure to X-radiation (97%), anaesthetics (96%), disinfectants (96%) and vaccines (85%) was high. More than 70% of the nurses were exposed to formaldehyde (76%) and pesticides/insecticides (71%). For all exposures except vaccines, about 50% of the nurses exposed were worried about negative health consequences. Acute injuries were common with 98% of the nurses experiencing dog/cat bites/scratches, 71% experiencing needle stick injuries and 43% experiencing lacerations. More than half of the nurses (52%) suffered from chronic back/neck pain and 39% reported having allergy or hay fever. Sixteen cases (11%) of Cat Scratch Fever were reported. Job related affective well-being was similar to a large sample of workers in comparable level jobs.


Among attendees of a veterinary nurses conference, the proportion of this group of nurses exposed to hazards in their work environment was high and acute and chronic injuries were common. Considering that nurses account for more than 40% of total employment in the veterinary service industry, the results of this study show that the occupational health hazards of this professional group require further study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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