A majority of veterinarians experience widespread moral distress when receiving inappropriate requests for euthanasia and in instances of being unable to provide care, according to a new US study.
The study—published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine—surveyed 889 veterinarians in North America to investigate the incidence of ethical conflicts, moral distress, and burnout in veterinary practice.
It found a majority of respondents reported feeling conflict over what care is appropriate to provide.
Over 70 per cent of respondents felt the obstacles they faced that prevented them from providing appropriate care caused them or their staff moderate to severe distress.
Nearly 64 per cent of vets and their staff also felt moderate to severe stress after getting inappropriate requests from owners to euthanise their pets, while 79 per cent of participants reported being asked to provide care they considered futile.
“My assumption is the findings from our survey are definitely part of, or even the majority of, the reason why veterinarians have higher than average suicide rates,” Harvard Medical School bioethicist J. Wesley Boyd said.
The study further revealed that more than 70 per cent of participants reported no training in conflict resolution or self‐care.