Introduction: Prior work demonstrates 80% of veterinarians view their occupation as stressful. Recent research has identified specific domains of client interactions that are linked to stress and burnout in the field, including non-adherent client behavior, confrontations, and excess client communication. To date, research examining these links has focused on veterinarians, but other workers in this setting face similar issues. This study explored potential differences across groups of workers in veterinary medicine in frequency of and reactivity to such client interactions, and their relationships to measures of psychosocial function. Methods: 80 veterinary medicine workers completed self-report measures of reactivity to client interactions (Burden Transfer Inventory; BTI) and measures of psychosocial function (Perceived Stress Scale, Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, and Center for Epidemiology Studies Depression scale). Results: Total BTI was not different across groups for total Frequency of these encounters (p=ns), though veterinarians and technicians reported greater total Reaction to these client encounters than office staff (p<.01). Total BTI showed significant correlations with validated measures of stress, burnout, and symptoms of depression across groups. Discussion: The current study supports that not only veterinarians, but other workers in veterinary medicine are affected by difficult client interactions, and that these experiences are linked to mental health and wellbeing across groups of workers in this field. Specific differences in domains suggest a possible role of job requirements, job expectations, and/or selection in hiring. Because the current study is cross-sectional, it is not possible to determine directionality. Future research should examine these questions longitudinally.
Mary Beth Spitznagel
Research shows difficult client interactions are linked to stress/burnout in veterinary medicine, but research to date has only examined these links in veterinarians. Other workers in this setting face similar issues and may react similarly. 80 veterinary medicine workers completed self-report measures of reactivity to client interactions and measures of stress, burnout, and depressive symptoms. Veterinarians and technicians reported greater reactivity to difficult client encounters than office staff (p<.01). Significant correlations between these encounters and validated measures of stress, burnout, and symptoms of depression were observed across groups. The current study suggests that although some group differences in reactivity to difficult client encounters exist, the wellbeing of all workers in veterinary medicine is similarly affected by these interactions.