Female Veterinarians' Experiences With Human Clients: The Link to Burnout and Depression

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Purpose: Previous research studies have noted that veterinarians are up to four times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Studies have indicated possible catalysts for this increased risk, including exposure to euthanasia, depression, burnout, compassion fatigue, occupational stress, work–life imbalance and anxiety. With female veterinarians reporting higher rates of mental health issues and the fact that the ratio of female to male veterinarians is almost 2:1, the study focused on the female veterinarian population. Few research studies have been conducted to examine stressors directly related to human factors. The present study aims to examine the path to depression and burnout as it relates to positive versus negative interactions with human clients (owners of animal patients).

Design/Methodology/Approach: The study recruited 222 female veterinarians online (average age = 36.89). The participants completed three scales measuring (1) burnout; (2) depression, anxiety and stress; and (3) positive and negative experiences with human clients.

Findings: Using the structural equation modeling (SEM), the results showed contrasting patterns of positive versus negative client-related experience in relation to burnout and depression. Positive client experience showed a direct path to the lower levels of depression and client-related burnout while negative client experience revealed a non-direct path to depression but a direct path to more specific burnout such as client-related and work-related burnout.

Originality/Value: Results of the study offered insight into the unique contribution of client-related experience in burnout and depression as positive versus negative client experience took on differential paths to depression and burnout.

Publication Title

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

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