R Allister

The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Publications (3)0 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Wellbeing (positive mental health) and mental ill-health of veterinary students from a single UK school were quantified using validated psychological scales. Attitudes towards mental ill-health and suicide were also assessed. Results were compared with published data from the UK general population and veterinary profession. Of the total student population (N=1068), 509 (48 per cent) completed a questionnaire. Just over half (54 per cent) of the respondents had ever experienced mental ill-health, with the majority reporting a first occurrence before veterinary school. Student wellbeing was significantly poorer (p<0.0001) than general population estimates, but not significantly different (p=0.2) from veterinary profession estimates. Degree of mental distress in students was significantly higher than in the general population (p<0.0001). Despite the majority (94 per cent) agreeing that 'Anyone can suffer from mental health problems', students were significantly more likely than members of the general population to agree that 'If I were suffering from mental health problems, I wouldn't want people knowing about it' (p<0.0001). Students were more likely to have thought about suicide, but less likely to have made an attempt (p<0.001; p=0.005), than members of the general population. The possibility of non-response bias must be considered when interpreting findings. However, strong similarities between results from this study population and the UK veterinary profession, as well as other veterinary student populations internationally, suggest no substantial school-level bias.
    08/2013; 173(11). DOI:10.1136/vr.101390
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    ABSTRACT: Considerable evidence suggests that veterinary surgeons' mental health is often poorer than comparable populations and that the incidence of suicide is higher among veterinary surgeons than the general public. Veterinary students also appear to suffer from high levels of anxiety and stress, and may possess inadequate coping strategies when faced with adversity. Veterinary students may find it difficult to access central university support systems due to their heavy workload and geographical isolation on some veterinary campuses. A previous study of University of Edinburgh fourth-year veterinary students found that support services located several miles from the main veterinary campus was a barrier to students accessing counselling services. Consequently, a pilot project was initiated, which provided a counselling service at the University of Edinburgh's rural Easter Bush veterinary campus one afternoon a week during 2010. As part of the evaluation of this service, web-based questionnaires were delivered via e-mail to all veterinary staff and students towards the end of the 12-month pilot period to evaluate perceptions of barriers to student counselling and to investigate student-valued support services. Questionnaire responses were received from 35 per cent of veterinary students and 52 per cent of staff. Stigmatisation of being unable to cope was a potent inhibitor of seeking support within the veterinary environment, but counselling was perceived as valuable by the majority of staff and students. Provision of an on-site counselling service was considered important for increasing ease of access; however, students viewed friends and family as their most important support mechanism. Workload was cited as the main cause of veterinary student stress. The majority of staff and student respondents perceived veterinary students as having an increased need for counselling support compared with other students.
    12/2011; 170(5):124. DOI:10.1136/vr.100179
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    ABSTRACT: In an effort to increase suicide awareness skills among veterinary undergraduates, a three-hour suicide awareness workshop (safeTALK) was delivered to third-year Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies undergraduates as part of their professional development curriculum. Students were able to opt out of the session by contacting the course organisers. A total of 26 of 151 (17 per cent) third-year students attended the workshop, and 17 completed a feedback questionnaire. The vast majority of the students reported that after completing the workshop they were more likely or much more likely to recognise the signs of a person at risk of suicide, approach a person at risk of suicide, ask a person about suicide, and connect a person at risk of suicide with help. Five veterinary academics attended a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) course, and all reported that the course was effective in improving suicide awareness and intervention skills.
    11/2010; 167(19):730-4. DOI:10.1136/vr.c5427