Consequences and coping: Investigating client, co-worker and senior colleague incivility within veterinary practice

Amy Irwin* (Corresponding Author), Helen Silver-MacMahon, Stephanie Wilcke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Workplace incivility functions as a workplace stressor, with varying effects according to the status of target and instigator. The current study sought to examine the experience of incivility from clients, co-workers and senior colleagues for veterinary staff.
Method: An online mixed-measures survey (n = 252) gathered data from UK veterinary staff (primarily veterinary surgeons and nurses). Quantitative scales were used to collect data on incivility frequency, reported burnout, mental health, job satisfaction, turnover intention and key coping responses. Qualitative data expanded on preferred coping strategies.
Results: The impact of uncivil behaviour varied according to the source of the incivility and the status of the target. Specifically, rudeness from senior colleagues predicted turnover intention for veterinary surgeons, whereas client incivility predicted risk of burnout, and senior colleague incivility predicted job satisfaction for veterinary nurses. Seeking support was the most frequently reported coping strategy. The qualitative data indicated further strategies focused on calming the situation, management of self and practice.
Conclusion: All veterinary staff are at risk of experiencing incivility, with varying impact across job role and incivility source, indicating incivility interventions need to be tailored. Social support is a vital coping strategy and should be facilitated within practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2030
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number7
Early online date24 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

The data presented within this paper are not available publicly due to ethical and confidentiality constraints. The data will be shared by the corresponding author privately upon request.


  • coping strategies
  • incivility
  • mental health
  • burnout


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