Otago Polytechnic

Musculoskeletal Pain Among New Zealand Based Veterinarians: How the Physical Performance of Veterinary Work and Mental Wellbeing Influence this Experience

David Waugh

 

Waugh, D. (2018). Musculoskeletal Pain Among New Zealand Based Veterinarians: How the Physical Performance of Veterinary Work and Mental Wellbeing Influence this Experience. (A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree Master of Applied Science (Exercise and Health) at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand) [PDF 1.05MB]

 

AIMS: To understand whether the physical performance of veterinary work or poor mental wellbeing is the major determinant of work-related musculoskeletal pain among New Zealand based veterinarians. Thus, providing insights for the future development of occupation specific exercise based interventions.

METHODS: Data was collected by means of a multiple choice online survey. This survey featured the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS), a shortened Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C), and questions relating to the experience of work-related musculoskeletal pain. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with volunteers obtained via the survey and purposely sampled by veterinary subgroup (small, mixed, or large animal) as well as WEMWBS scores (less than, greater than, or equal to the median).

RESULTS: There were 150 total respondents, representing 5.1% of the 2,948 veterinarians registered within New Zealand. The median WEMWBS score for the entire veterinary sample was 50 (IQR=11). There was no statistically significant difference between the WEMWBS scores of small, mixed and large animal practitioners (p=0.302). The rate of “at-risk” alcohol consumption among the veterinarians sampled was 35.0% higher than general public estimates. There was no significant difference between veterinary subgroups in relation to alcohol consumption (p=0.479). Mixed (81.1%; IQR=10; n=43) and large animal practitioners (67.5%; IQR=10; n=27) were the veterinary subgroups found to suffer from the highest rates of work-related musculoskeletal pain. Furthermore, the interview data (n=12) revealed extensive pain and injury histories among mixed and large animal practitioners, but not among the small animal practitioners interviewed.

CONCLUSIONS: The small, mixed or large animal practitioners sampled for this research, as groups, shared a common level of mental wellbeing and alcohol consumption. However, the mixed and large animal practitioners sampled, reported suffering from work-related musculoskeletal pain at the highest rates. The findings suggest that the physical performance of veterinary tasks associated with large animals is the major determinant of the experience of work-related musculoskeletal pain. However, further research is recommended to investigate if, or to which extent, psychological stress modulates the ability for mixed and large animal veterinarians to recover from their physical workloads. 

 

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This thesis is available under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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