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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2015 Oct 15;247(8):945-55. doi: 10.2460/javma.247.8.945.

Risk factors for suicide, attitudes toward mental illness, and practice-related stressors among US veterinarians.

Abstract

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.

PMID:
26421408
DOI:
10.2460/javma.247.8.945
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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