Project title: Evaluating Use of Personal Protective Equipment by Veterinary Professionals Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Completed in: 2022 | Faculty advisor: Peter Rabinowitz
Introduction: Infection control is important in the veterinary care setting due to the risk of zoonotic illness1–4, however research has consistently shown that veterinary workers tend to underestimate their risk and have lower rates of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use5–9. The primary aim of this research was to investigate if the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic changed PPE use in the veterinary industry, and investigate if other areas related to clinical veterinary work have been impacted.
Methods: Quantitative analysis of cross-sectional data from two separate studies recruiting veterinary workers in Washington state from 2019 (N=97) and 2021 (N=66), including a paired data set of 27 participants responding to both questionnaires was conducted using simple and paired T-testing and linear regression modeling.
Results: Findings suggest a broad trend toward a small increase in PPE use for most activities that present a risk for occupational zoonosis exposure, however results were generally not statistically significant. Other findings of interest include high rates of COVID-19 vaccination among veterinary workers (98.5% fully or partially vaccinated at time of questionnaire), high levels of difficulty in obtaining PPE (>56%) and re-use of masks and other PPE (40% and 26%, respectively) since March 2020, and high levels of reported career burnout (>70%) and poor mental health (17.5%).
Conclusion: Further research to understand the predictors of PPE use, impacts of PPE supply chain issues, and implications of psychosocial stress and burnout on occupational health and safety are needed in this population.