Kynetec, the global leader in agricultural and animal health market research, collaborated with Merck Animal Health, Brakke Consulting and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on a study designed to better understand the wellbeing and mental health of veterinarians in the United States.
The results of the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study were presented at the 2018 Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX) in Orlando as well as the 2018 Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) in Las Vegas.
Key findings included that around 1 in 20 veterinarians suffer from psychological distress. Whilst this aligns with the general population, younger veterinarians (aged 45 and younger) are more impacted by the financial and emotional stresses of professional veterinary life. Of those reporting emotional distress, depression (94%), burnout (88%) and anxiety (83%) were reported most frequently. High student debt was identified as a key driver of psychological distress. Only half of veterinarians with serious psychological distress are seeking help.
To assess mental health, the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale was used to identify veterinarians suffering from serious psychological distress. For wellbeing, a customized index was created based on three widely recognized measures.
Kynetec’s role in the study was to provide consultation on survey design, data collection and summarization. With a response rate of around 18%, 3,540 vets completed an online survey, one of the largest samples of U.S. veterinarians established in a survey of this type. Veterinarians were randomly selected to take part, and the data were weighted based on age, gender and region. All data were tested for statistical significance at the 95 percent confidence level. For the sample as a whole, the maximum margin of error is +/- 1.62%.
“This survey is unique in that, for the first time, a nationally representative sample of veterinarians in the U.S. were asked about their wellbeing, which is a broader measure of happiness and life satisfaction than mental health alone,” said study investigator Linda Lord, Ph.D., D.V.M., academic and allied industry liaison lead, Merck Animal Health. “Based on the survey results, we are particularly concerned about younger veterinarians as they are the future of our profession. We must work together to promote a healthy lifestyle, including work/life balance, access to wellness resources and debt reduction.”
“Our hope is that this research positively contributes to the discussion of mental health and wellbeing in our industry. The research not only provides a detailed comparison of how U.S. veterinarians compare with the overall population, but also identifies behaviors that are associated with positive and negative wellbeing and mental health,” said Colin Siren, Director, Kynetec. “The combination of robust sample size and detailed weighting approach allows for benchmarking and analysis to be conducted among lower incidence groups, not usually available for analysis.”