Occupational health and work environment of Finnish veterinarians

Kari Reijula, Kimmo Räsänen, Marja-Liisa Lindbohm, Helena Taskinen, Kalevi Juntunen, Meeri Rinta-Jouppi and Marjut Hämäläinen


The Finnish Veterinary Association and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health conducted a questionnaire survey in spring 2000 concerning occupational health and work environment of veterinarians. The questionnaire survey was mailed to all veterinarians less than 65 years old and working in Finland (n=1169) out of whom 785 (67%) responded. The proportion of female veterinarians has significantly increased  while the proportion of veterinarians working for municipalities has decreased during recent years. According to the present results, the work of veterinarians was physically demanding. An increased risk to have accidents at work was often reported in their work. The risk was assumed high or relatively high among over 50% of respondents. The highest numbers were present among veterinarians working with horses and in municipal practice. Veterinarians were committed to their work. At the same time they reported work related stress and burn out more often than was expected. Veterinarians working for municipalities and those teaching and working as reseachers had the highest prevalence of work-related stress. Severe exhaustion was the most prevalent among women in young age groups and among men in older age groups. Two thirds of respondents reported that their health was good or rather good, less than 5% reporting rather poor or poor health. Work and work environment of veterinarians and the risks of the work varied remarkably depending on respondents´ tasks. This has to be taken into consideration when occupational health services are planned for veterinarians.