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Mental health of veterinarians in Canada: Prevalence of outcomes, associations with veterinarian characteristics, and impacts on client perceptions of care

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Title: Mental health of veterinarians in Canada: Prevalence of outcomes, associations with veterinarian characteristics, and impacts on client perceptions of care
Author: Perret, Jennifer L.
Department: Department of Population Medicine
Program: Population Medicine
Advisor: Jones-Bitton, Andria
Abstract: Poor mental health in medical professionals has been associated with negative consequences for the individual, workplace, and patients/clients. There are reports of poor mental health among veterinarians in several countries, but data in Canada remain sparse. No publications to date have evaluated outcomes of care for veterinary clients or patients relative to the mental health of the veterinarian. This research comprised two projects. First, a survey of veterinarians in Canada to explore the prevalence of perceived stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, personal accomplishment, burnout, secondary traumatic stress, compassion satisfaction, and resilience, as well as to explore associated personal, lifestyle, and career characteristics. Second, an in-clinic study of veterinarians and veterinary clients to explore the relationship between the same veterinarian mental health measures and three appointment outcomes: client satisfaction and veterinarian and client perceptions of patient-centeredness (VPCC and CPCC, respectively). Relative to the general population, survey participants (n=1403) had higher levels of negative mental health states, and lower resilience; female veterinarians fared poorer than males. Univariable modelling indicated that resilience was positively associated with other positive mental health states, and negatively associated with negative mental states. Among veterinarians in clinical practice (n=1130), a multivariable model predicted positive associations between resilience and overall health, a participant’s satisfaction with support from friends, relationship/partner, and workplace resources. Negative associations with resilience included participant-reported presence of mental illness, being married, in small animal practice, or being in an associate role. Sixty veterinarians participated in the second study. Several associations between veterinarian mental health scores and client satisfaction scores (n=995) were significant, non-linear, and complex. In some models, higher client satisfaction was unexpectedly associated with poor veterinarian mental health, while lower client satisfaction was associated with apparent mental wellness. In multilevel, multivariable models, both VPCC and CPCC (n=977) were positively associated veterinarian compassion satisfaction. However, veterinarian burnout was negatively associated with VPCC, while veterinarian emotional exhaustion (an aspect of burnout) was positively associated with CPCC. These findings suggest that many veterinarians in Canada are experiencing poor mental health, which in turn may impact client outcomes. Cultivating veterinarian resilience represents a promising area for well-being intervention.
Date: 2020-05
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International