Research explores the other side of that dreaded trip to the Vet

Credit: MTSOfan/Flickr

A new paper published this month in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology is the first to explore the association between euthanasia-administration frequency and an established depressed mood and suicide risk in veterinarians.

"Veterinarians experience up to four times the risk of suicide than the general population," says lead author Dr Monique Crane. "It is generally believed that the key contributor to this behavior is the of animals."

The project, sampling 540 Australia-registered veterinarians ranging in age from 23 to 74, represents a special research collaboration.

The authors include registered psychologist (Crane) whose research focuses on  occupational mental health and resilience; a former veterinarian now medical researcher based at the Australian School of Advanced Medicine (Professor Jacqueline Phillips); and a research Masters student (Lily Tran).

The three authors share a common interest in the welfare of medical professionals and identification of veterinarians as a high risk population.

"Our results found that the more euthanasia performed in a typical week, the greater the risk of ," says Phillips.

"While this might initially sound alarming, euthanasia frequency actually only explained a very small amount of the variance in . This indicates that the performance of euthanasia is a very minor player in depression experienced by veterinarians and other factors are likely to make much more of a contribution."

With regards to , a greater amount of euthanasia performed in a typical week actually reduced the risk of suicide in depressed veterinarians. Thus, rather than contributing to greater suicide-risk in depressed veterinarians, the highly frequent (>11 in a typical week) performance of euthanasia may be a protective factor against suicide risk in depressed veterinarians.

"Our work highlights that the relationships between performing euthanasia, depression and suicide-risk is more complex than previously anticipated, and that strategies used by veterinarians to manage the emotional impact of euthanasia are generally effective (e.g., emotional distancing)," says Crane.

"Our work also indicates that there are therefore other very important factors that are critical determinants of wellbeing in , which is part of our ongoing research."

More information: "The Distinct Role of Performing Euthanasia on Depression and Suicide in Veterinarians," Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Lily Tran, Monique F. Crane, and Jacqueline K. Phillips Online First Publication, March 17, 2014. dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0035837

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reported Dutch euthanasia cases rise

Sep 26, 2012

(AP)—The number of doctor-assisted suicide cases reported in the Netherlands grew by 559 between the years of 2010 and 2011, a commission says.

Recommended for you

Mothers don't speak so clearly to their babies

Jan 23, 2015

People have a distinctive way of talking to babies and small children: We speak more slowly, using a sing-song voice, and tend to use cutesy words like "tummy". While we might be inclined to think that we ...

Explainer: What is sexual fluidity?

Jan 23, 2015

Sexual preferences are not set in stone and can change over time, often depending on the immediate situation the individual is in. This has been described as sexual fluidity. For example, if someone identifies as heterosexual but th ...

Lucky charms: When are superstitions used most?

Jan 23, 2015

It might be a lucky pair of socks, or a piece of jewelry; whatever the item, many people turn to a superstition or lucky charm to help achieve a goal. For instance, you used a specific avatar to win a game and now you see ...

Low-income boys fare worse in wealth's shadow

Jan 22, 2015

Low-income boys fare worse, not better, when they grow up alongside more affluent neighbors, according to new findings from Duke University. In fact, the greater the economic gap between the boys and their neighbors, the ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.