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Research Companion to Organizational Health Psychology

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

This timely Research Companion is essential reading to advance the understanding of healthy behaviours within working environments and to identify problems which can be the cause of illness. Containing both theoretical and empirical contributions written by distinguished academics working in Europe, North America and Australia, the book covers leading edge topics ranging from current theories of stress, stress management, and stress in specific occupational groups, such as doctors and teachers, to the relationship of stress with well-being. It provides systematic approaches towards practical actions and stress interventions in working environments and a solid theoretical framework for future research. It will be an essential companion to research on psychology and medicine as well as stress.
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Chapter 19: Stress in Veterinary Surgeons: A Review and Pilot Study

Howard Kahn and Camilla V.J. Nutter


Howard Kahn and Camilla V.J. Nutter Introduction The general public’s perception of veterinary surgeons is that of an idyllic existence, of benevolent, caring professionals administering to sick animals and offering comfort and support to concerned clients, an altogether low-stress occupation. Indeed, in 1985, a report (Wilby, 1985) was published assessing the stress levels of various jobs on a tenpoint scale. Vets were assessed at 4.5 which, when compared with other ‘health’ workers, was relatively low (for example dentists 7.3, doctors 6.8, opticians 4.0 and pharmacists 4.5). Yet this somehow seems highly incompatible with statistics which show that veterinary surgeons have one of the highest suicide rates among all of the professions. The UK Mental Health Foundation has noted that ‘suicide in veterinary surgeons is around three times more common than in the general population and in pharmacists, dentists, farmers and doctors it is around twice as common. Many of these are occupations which provide easy access to both the methods and knowledge about the methods of suicide. Also these occupations may be particularly prone to stress’ (Mental Health Foundation, 1997). Similar reports emanate from the United States: ‘Veterinarians have to deal not only with client grief, but also with their own. Veterinarians have one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and in some European countries, the veterinary profession has the highest suicide rate’ (Joyner, 2002). A report from Australia notes that ‘veterinary surgeons, world wide, share the dubious distinction of being one of the leading professions in...

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