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Mental health of veterinary nurses and student veterinary nurses: A scoping review

Cardwell, Jacqueline; King, Naomi; Lewis, Elisa G.; Kinnison, Tierney; Langridge, Alison; Civai, Claudia; Anthony May, Stephen; Cardwell, Jacqueline M.


Jacqueline Cardwell

Naomi King

Elisa G. Lewis

Tierney Kinnison

Alison Langridge

Claudia Civai

Stephen Anthony May

Jacqueline M. Cardwell


Research has shown that veterinarians around the world are at high risk of mental health problems, but far less research has examined the mental health of veterinary nurses (VNs) and student veterinary nurses (SVNs). This scoping review aimed to map existing evidence on this topic and identify knowledge gaps.

Literature searches of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, Web of Science and Google Scholar were conducted, and a structured screening and selection procedure was applied. To be included, studies had to be peer reviewed, report relevant results specific to VNs and/or SVNs, and provide descriptive statistics if using quantitative methods.

Of the 2118 publications identified, only 13 journal articles met the inclusion criteria. The findings were summarised in five categories: mental health and wellbeing, burnout, stress, compassion fatigue and moral distress. While the findings of five of the studies suggested that some VNs and SVNs experienced some form of poor mental health, these studies lacked generalisability or transferability for multiple reasons. There was also inconsistency and ambiguity in the interpretation of findings, as well as incompatible or oversimplified definitions of mental health problems.

Our review excluded grey literature, such as reports, theses and conference presentations, as a preliminary search found very little empirical research on VNs' and SVNs' mental health in this type of publication.

More research is needed to address the gaps in the existing evidence supporting our understanding of VN and SVN mental health. This should establish baseline measures and include comparisons with other occupational and national populations.


Cardwell, J., King, N., Lewis, E. G., Kinnison, T., Langridge, A., Civai, C., …Cardwell, J. M. (2024). Mental health of veterinary nurses and student veterinary nurses: A scoping review. Veterinary Record,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 14, 2024
Online Publication Date Apr 15, 2024
Publication Date Apr 15, 2024
Deposit Date Apr 16, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 17, 2024
Journal Veterinary Record
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed


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