Traumatic stress of frontline workers in culling livestock animals in south korea

Hyomin Park, Myung Sun Chun, Yunjeong Joo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The last decade brought several devastating outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and avian influenza in South Korea, which had been handled through preventive culling, despite the controversy surrounding its efficiency and ethical considerations. Notably, the lack of regulations on culling processes has exposed the workers to extremely harsh working conditions. This study investigates the effect of culling jobs on the mental health of the frontline workers, based on 200 samples collected through a web‐based survey conducted on participants with experience of culling tasks. Culling was found to have a powerful negative effect on the workers’ mental health, including high depression rates. Of those surveyed, 83.7% answered that the working conditions were intense, and 74.5% showed scores above the cutoff point for post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A regression analysis revealed that individual’s attitudes toward animals mediated the effect of culling experience on PTSD symptoms. However, mental health care for the workers has been insufficient: 70.2% of the respondents were willing to get mental treatment to deal with the distress they underwent from culling. We conclude that engagement in culling has a detrimental effect on the workers’ mental health, and that they should be provided with systematic mental health care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1920
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • AAS
  • Animal attitude scale
  • Animal disease
  • Animal ethics
  • Culling
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • PTSD
  • Post‐traumatic stress disorder


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