Sharon Kramper, Eric S Crosby, Sydney Waitz-Kudla
Jan 23, 2023
Psychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy
OBJECTIVE Explore the relationship between highly stressful events in veterinary medicine and mental health outcomes such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). METHOD Using narratives of highly stressful work events from 359 veterinary professionals, we calculated the prevalence of PTSD using both the standard Criterion A from DSM-5-TR and an expanded definition of a traumatic event that included animals as victims. Bivariate correlations were performed to probe for relationships between exposure to highly stressful events and other negative mental health outcomes. RESULTS Seventy-six (21.1%) veterinary professionals reported exposure to a Criterion A work-related event, and 141 (39.3%) reported exposure under the expanded definition. Further, 13 (3.6%) to 50 (13.9%) veterinary professionals screened positive for PTSD, depending on how the traumatic stressor was defined and whether PTSD symptoms were linked to the same event or multiple events. Screening positive for PTSD was positively associated with suicidal ideation, psychological distress, and burnout. Defining traumatic stressors broadly and linking PTSD symptoms to multiple events resulted in more robust correlations and revealed positive associations with depression, suicide attempt, and problematic alcohol and drug abuse. The number of exposures to highly stressful work events was also positively associated with depression, suicidal ideation, psychological distress, and burnout and negatively associated with job satisfaction. CONCLUSION Future research should consider strategies to mitigate the negative consequences that result from unavoidable exposure to highly stressful events in the veterinary workplace. Moreover, the types of events specific to veterinary medicine should be considered when assessing for traumatic events and post-exposure symptoms in veterinary professionals. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).