Spatial and temporal evaluation of veterinarians and veterinary employers relative to human and domesticated animal populations in Australia 2002–2012

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine the distribution of veterinarians, humans, domestic animals and non-private practice employers in Australia and assess whether a relationship exists between them. To identify trends in the number of veterinarians, humans and domestic animals between 2002 and 2012 that may influence future demands for veterinary services.

Methods

Australian data on registered veterinarians, veterinary practices, the human population and various domestic animal species were obtained for the years 2002, 2007 and 2012. The data were mapped to assess distribution and temporal trends in number and distribution were assessed.

Results

Nationally, registered veterinarians were distributed similarly to the general population, with a slight bias to regional areas. The number of veterinarians nationally increased both in absolute terms and relative to the human population between 2002 and 2012. Companion animals were distributed similarly to the human population and livestock occurred in highest density in the more productive agricultural areas. The areas with highest density of domestic animals were within 100 km of an existing veterinary practice. There was moderate correlation between the number of registered veterinarians and the number of people or companion animals, but poor correlation for livestock. The number of domestic animal species decreased between 2002 and 2012, with the exceptions of cattle and poultry.

Conclusions

There is not a simple relationship between the number of veterinarians, people or domestic animals. Better data are needed to describe the drivers for demand for veterinary services and enable future workforce planning.

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