Psychological Distress in Veterinary Professionals in Singapore

By Admin | News

Dec 05

The psychological stress of being a vet in SG was highlighted in a CNA article back in 2018.

Back in February 2020, James Cook University started a Veterinary Wellbeing Study in Singapore Context. The study has since concluded. Below you shall find the respective results:

Psychological Distress in Veterinary Professionals in Singapore

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Psychology (Clinical) degree at James Cook University Singapore by Mr Ong Jie Li.


There was no funding for this research. The authors thank the Singapore Veterinary Association (SVA) for their help in the recruitment efforts, with special acknowledgement to Dr. Haoting Chow for his ongoing support and liaison with SVA. I would also like to express my personal gratitude to my supervisor and co-author, Professor Nigel V. Marsh for his patience and guidance amidst his hectic workload.



Veterinary professionals (VP) have established higher risks for poorer mental health outcomes due to exposure to animal suffering, moral stress, challenging client interactions, poor working conditions, and financial stress. Yet, there is a lack of evidence for interventions suitable for VP, particularly in an Asian context. Increasingly, related literature shows promise for app-delivered mindfulness-based interventions (AD-MBI) in helping to reduce barriers to intervention. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of AD-MBI for VP in Singapore, with expected improvements in psychological wellbeing, mindfulness, depressive, stress, and anxiety outcomes following a 10-day use and follow-up.


A pre-post between-group study was planned; 137 individuals started the baseline survey and only four went through the intervention condition and completed follow-up. Due to low uptake and attrition, a multi-parts approach with epidemiological and case-series analyses using the reliable change and clinically significant change index was taken instead.


Vet nurses were more anxious than veterinarians; vet technicians had lower psychological wellbeing than veterinarians. Veterinary Professionals, in general, had between 4 – 9 times higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms compared to human healthcare professionals in Singapore. Converse to the literature, psychological distress was not negatively correlated with career length; but younger VP were associated with higher anxiety. Four VP individuals who completed the intervention and follow-up had varied and unexpected outcomes; possible reasons and future recommendations were discussed.


Despite the inconsistent findings regarding AD-MBI, this study is the first intervention study in Asia contributing towards the literature gap of VP mental health.

Keywords: Veterinary, mindfulness, intervention, mental health, case-series, reliable change index.