Anxiety and Depression in British Horseracing Stud and Stable Staff Following Occupational Injury

Emma Davies, Sophie Liddiard, Will J. McConn-Palfreyman, John K. Parker, Lorna J. Cameron, Jane M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Simple Summary: Employee mental health is a strategic initiative for global organizations and maintaining staff wellbeing is a key focus for British horseracing. Workforce wellbeing is increasingly linked to employee recruitment, retention, and productivity, challenges currently facing the horseracing sector. Improving staff wellbeing is paramount to maintaining high standards of equine welfare, ensuring the industry’s social license to operate is upheld. Research in horseracing has identified a range of factors influencing staff wellbeing; however, the role of injury in anxiety and depression scores is unknown for this population. Over two thirds of injured staff were experiencing anxiety and over half were experiencing depression. Anxiety and depression scores were related to employment status, working hours, and type of injury. Higher anxiety and depression scores were negatively associated with help-seeking and pain management behaviors during injury, as well as increased risk of using alcohol as a coping method, both for pain-relief at work and socially. The findings from this study may provide opportunities to influence mental health post-injury within horseracing, through the development of educational resources aimed at reducing stigma, improving mental health literacy, and developing industry-wide early screening protocols for mental health in injured staff. Abstract: Horseracing has identified several factors influencing staff wellbeing; however, the relationship between injury, anxiety, and depression is yet to be established. This study investigated anxiety and depression scores and their association to pain management, coping, and help-seeking behaviour in injured British horseracing staff. An online retrospective survey was completed by 175 participants, identifying injury prevalence, coping strategies, occupational risk factors, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) scores. Analysis identified 65.14% (n = 114) of staff reported anxiety scores above the threshold (≥8) and 59.52% (n = 104) of staff reported depression scores ≥8. Median anxiety and depression scores were higher for staff who viewed their employer as unhelpful (anxiety p = 0.001; depression p = 0.020). Heightened anxiety and depression were associated with an increased likelihood to use pain medication to manage at work, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), alcohol, nicotine, and prescription drugs (p < 0.05). Implications for staff wellbeing is evident; anxiety and depression risks are high following injury, which may influence help-seeking behaviour, perceived job security, and coping mechanisms. This paper suggests it is vital to continue to investigate poor mental health and injury in racing staff and the implications for equine welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2023


  • mental health
  • racehorse welfare
  • racing grooms
  • retention
  • wellbeing
  • workforce


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