Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 19: Stress in Veterinary Surgeons: A Review and Pilot Study
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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