The Effect of Personality on Occupational Stress in Veterinary Surgeons

Briony F.Y. Dawson, Neill Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Statistics show that veterinary surgeons are in one of the professions with the highest suicide rates. This indicates the sector has significant well-being issues, with high levels of occupational stress and burnout. Previous research has focused on environmental factors in isolation, overlooking the influence of personality. This study aimed to establish that personality is a better predictor of occupational stress than environment. UK veterinary surgeons (n=311) completed an online survey composed of three questionnaires; the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and the Job Stress Survey. Multiple regression analysis revealed that personality is a better predictor of occupational stress than environment (p<.001). Neuroticism is the trait that significantly predicts occupational stress (p<.001), and the components of neuroticism that contribute the most to stress are depression (p=.002) and anger hostility (p=.005). Demographic factors such as the number of years the veterinarian has been qualified acted as a mediator between depression and occupational stress (p<.001), and as a moderator between personal accomplishments and occupational stress (p=.028). Overall findings suggest that newly qualified veterinarians are at greater risk of suffering from high levels of occupational stress than those well established in the profession, and that veterinarians with higher levels of depression and anger hostility are likely to experience greater levels of occupational stress. Implications highlight the need for greater awareness of potentially susceptible personality traits in the veterinary admissions process. This would allow for the identification of those at risk and the implementation of interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-83
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number1
Early online date16 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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