Surveys look at veterinarian wellness issues

Woman-computerEditor’s note (May 19, 2015): This blog post has been updated to include the announcement of a second survey that also is seeking veterinary involvement.

Do you have a few minutes available to help researchers looking for answers to short surveys about mental wellness issues in the veterinary workplace?

The first survey is related to drug abuse and addiction. The researchers are hoping to compile information about issues relating to depression and suicide in the veterinary profession, and have identified drug abuse and addiction as potentially important contributing factors.

The potential for drug abuse and addiction is higher in medical professions than in other workplaces because of the increased access to controlled drugs. Yet drug testing remains relatively uncommon, according to one of the researchers, Dr. Jon Geller, who will be presenting on the topic “Drug Testing in the Veterinary Workplace” at the AVMA Annual Convention in Boston in July. Further confounding the problem is the legalization of marijuana for medical and even recreational use in some states, Geller said.

Geller, an emergency care veterinarian at Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency & Rehabilitation Hospital in Colorado, led development of the short online survey, which was developed in conjunction with Lori Kogan, PhD, an associate professor and outcomes assessment coordinator at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Knowing all of that, the researchers have put together a 10-question survey for veterinarians to answer questions about drug abuse, employee drug testing, and ease of access to controlled substances in veterinary workplaces. The survey is only intended for veterinarians (although the researchers are considering a companion poll for veterinary technicians), and it should take veterinarians only a few minutes to complete.

Links to the survey are also being posted on other veterinary websites, but veterinarians are asked to fill it out only once, Geller said. If you already have responded to the survey elsewhere, the researchers thank you for your help and ask that you not respond again.

If you have not already taken the survey, you can do so here. The researchers hope to have as many responses as possible submitted by June 1, to allow time to prepare for the AVMA Convention presentation, Geller said. However, the survey will remain open through July 1.

In the second survey, researchers are asking about stressors related to animal-related professions and compassion fatigue. Completing the session will take about 15 minutes.

Entitled “Compassion Fatigue in Animal Workers in the United States,” this study is being conducted by Maria A. Iliopoulou, DVM, MS, PhD, Rene Rosenbaum, PhD, Laura Reese, PhD, and Steve Cohen, PhD, from Michigan State University; Julie Squires, certified compassion fatigue specialist, and Amy Johnson, MAT, MA, LPC, TLS, CPDT-KA from Oakland University in collaboration with veterinarians, shelters, rescues, nonprofits and associated professional organizations.

Thank you for your participation.

5 thoughts on “Surveys look at veterinarian wellness issues

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  2. I tend to agree with Phil that the questions are often awkward and may end up being inaccurate as a result. The survey is a good concept, but also there are not always options for either answering “unknown” (e.g., as to some of the drug screening practices), or neutral (e.g., I may not necessarily feel one way or another – it may be a neutral issue, or sometimes I feel a certain way but other times opposite). Yet I have to pick either that I agree or disagree. I recognize this tries to pick up the extremes. But those will be confounded by many of us who were Neutral, but had to randomly pick either Agree or Disagree. Most of these issues/questions are not so black and white. I am not always stressed, but sometimes I am. Do I agree or disagree with being stressed? Sometimes… But there was no option for a more balanced (neutral) answer.

  3. I have only looked at the first survey, but the questions are worded very poorly. Answering most of the questions requires thinking through a double negative (e.g. I almost never don’t feel connected to people in emotional pain). I think you would be better off writing clearer questions and starting over. Otherwise, I don’t think the results will be reliable.

  4. I think that is a very nice research-able topic that will help reduce drug abuse