The moderating role of different forms of empathy on the association between performing animal euthanasia and career sustainability

Monique F. Crane, Madison Kho, Emma F. Thomas, Jean Decety, Pascal Molenberghs, Catherine E. Amiot, Morgana Lizzio-Wilson, Susilo Wibisono, Felicity Allan, Winnifred Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Veterinarian work may take an emotional toll on practitioners and their mental health, potentially driving premature exit from the profession. Performing animal euthanasia is frequently identified as a potential risk factor for sustainable mental health. Yet, research has demonstrated mixed results between euthanasia performance and detrimental mental health outcomes, suggesting the potential for factors that moderate this association. In this three-wave longitudinal survey study, including 110 currently practicing veterinarians (88% female), we examined whether the type of empathy experienced by these practitioners plays a role in the association between performing animal euthanasia and career sustainability. Two types of empathy, cognitive empathy (i.e., understanding the affective experience of another) and emotional empathy (i.e., experiencing another's emotional state) were assessed. Job disengagement at 12 months was predicted by the interaction between animal euthanasia frequency in the past 12 months and emotional empathy in the past 6 or 12 months. Perceived resilience at 12 months was predicted by the interaction between animal euthanasia frequency in the past 12 months and emotional empathy a year prior. For these outcomes, the effects of performing animal euthanasia on career sustainability were moderated by emotional empathy. Higher levels of emotional empathy were associated with worse outcomes. Veterinarians may seek to understand the affective experience of the client or patient and provide compassionate care in a sustainable way. However, they should do so while avoiding the costs of emotional empathy. This work has implications for veterinarian training to support career sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1107
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume53
Issue number11
Early online date27 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Veterinarians
  • Mental health
  • Animal euthanasia
  • Career sustainability

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