Incidence of alcohol-related deaths in the veterinary profession in England and Wales, 1993-2005

Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Division of Veterinary Clinical Studies, University of Edinburgh, Hospital for Small Animals, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH259RG, UK.
The Veterinary Journal (Impact Factor: 1.76). 09/2009; 181(3):332-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2008.04.006
Source: PubMed


It has recently been shown that the proportional mortality ratio for suicide by veterinarians is one of the highest of all occupational groups. The reasons for this alarming statistic are unclear although it has been postulated that alcohol or drug misuse may be significant risk factors which contribute towards the high incidence of suicide within the profession. However, there have been few studies on alcohol misuse by veterinarians and so the aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of alcohol-related deaths in the veterinary profession in England and Wales between 1993 and 2005. The proportional mortality ratio for alcohol-related deaths for veterinarians was not significantly higher than the general population during this time period. Future studies should focus on establishing the incidence of sub-lethal alcohol misuse within the veterinary profession.

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    ABSTRACT: Alcohol consumption can have both medical and occupational implications and may affect fitness to practise among veterinary surgeons (vets). To investigate alcohol consumption and the prevalence and associations of 'at-risk' drinking among vets in the UK. Alcohol consumption was measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test alcohol consumption questions (AUDIT-C) embedded in a questionnaire which included measures of mental health and psychosocial working conditions, administered to a representative sample of 1796 vets. Scores of >or=4 for women and >or=5 for men were used as an indicator of 'at-risk' drinking. The response rate was 56%. Five per cent of respondents were non-drinkers, 32% low-risk drinkers and 63% at-risk drinkers. The estimated odds of at-risk drinking was not significantly different for men and women. A 1-year increase in age was associated with a 2% reduction in the odds of at-risk drinking (OR 0.98, 95% CI: 0.97-0.99, P < 0.01). There was no significant difference across hours worked or on call in a typical week. Lower psychological demands at work were associated with reduced odds of at-risk drinking (OR 0.75, 95% CI: 0.63-0.90, P < 0.01). It is estimated that vets drink more frequently than the general population, but consume less on a typical drinking day and have a prevalence of daily and weekly binge drinking that is similar to the general population. The level of alcohol consumption does not appear to be a negative influence on mental health within the profession as a whole.
    Occupational Medicine 05/2009; 59(5):323-6. DOI:10.1093/occmed/kqp060 · 1.03 Impact Factor
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