• A Phenomenological Approach Exploring Veterinarians' Experience Performing Euthanasia on a Pet

      Shugart, Austin; College of Professional Advancement
      The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore veterinarians’ experience performing euthanasia on a pet. Various mental health effects from veterinarians’ performing euthanasia on pets have been discussed in the literature including risk of suicide, stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout (Bartram et al., 2009; Bartram & Baldwin, 2010; Hill et al., 2019; Miller, 2012). The objective of this phenomenological study was to further understand the experience that veterinarians have when performing the end-of-life procedure, euthanasia, and what themes may emerge as a result. Semi-structured interviews were used to understand veterinarians’ experiences with performing euthanasia. The sample included 8 veterinarians who have performed at least one euthanasia. The findings of this study included four emerging central themes that were identified in the data analysis process, including several subthemes. The first central theme identified was moral reasoning for euthanasia with subthemes including concern for quality of life, ending suffering for pets, and ending suffering for humans. The second central theme was effects on the mental health of the veterinarian with subthemes including suicidal risk, burnout, and compassion fatigue. The third central theme was the experience of performing euthanasia being emotionally difficult for the veterinarian including a subtheme of attending to the emotions and needs of owners. The last central theme was compartmentalization including a subtheme of professionalism. These findings contributed to the existing literature as they showed that performing euthanasia on a pet is an experience that affects the veterinarian in various ways. Continue research is needed to better understand the experience of a veterinarian performing euthanasia on a pet in order to better help veterinarians that may need help for their mental health.