Veterinarians are experiencing a mental health crisis, with higher suicide risk and poorer well-being compared to other high-risk professions, including dentists, pharmacists, and other medical practitioners.
Mental health stigma in the field prevents treatment-seeking, resulting in an unexpected health disparity. Local veterinary medicine job growth in Northeast Ohio makes this an at-risk and growing group in our community.
Our team has identified specific types of client interactions that predict veterinarian stress and burnout, with veterinarian reaction to these interactions being a more important predictor of negative outcomes than frequency of such interactions alone. We have developed an Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT)-based educational program tailored to reduce reactivity during these veterinarian-client interactions.
We plan to implement our program in veterinary clinics throughout our community, assessing program feasibility and acceptability, and monitoring use of techniques taught. Formal measures of burden transfer, stress, burnout, and mental health stigma will be measured using an online survey format at baseline (prior to ACT training) and follow-up (upon completion and 3 months later). A subset of clinics will be randomized to a wait-list control group, receiving the program after data collection. Data will be analyzed by comparing baseline data to follow-up, as well as program versus control conditions. Using feedback from 2 community stakeholders, we will develop a training module for use in clinical psychology and veterinary social work training programs to make this program sustainable beyond the funding period.