Importance of welfare and ethics competence regarding animals kept for scientific purposes to veterinary students in Australia and New Zealand

Teresa Collins*, Amelia Cornish, Jennifer Hood, Chris Degeling, Andrew D. Fisher, Rafael Freire, Susan J. Hazel, Jane Johnson, Janice K. F. Lloyd, Clive J. Phillips, Vicky Tzioumis, Paul D. McGreevy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Veterinarians are in a strong position of social influence on animal-related issues. Hence, veterinary schools have an opportunity to raise animal health and welfare standards by improving veterinary students' animal welfare and ethics (AWE) education, including that related to animals used for scientific purposes. A survey of 818 students in the early, mid, and senior stages of their courses at all eight veterinary schools across Australia and New Zealand was undertaken on their first day of practice (or Day One Competences) to explore how veterinary students viewed the importance of their competence in the management of welfare and ethical decision-making relating to animals kept for scientific purposes. From highest to lowest, the rankings they assigned were: Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) Procedures or Requirements; 3Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction); Humane Endpoints; Euthanasia; "What Is a Research Animal?" and Conscientious Objections. Female students rated Conscientious Objections, Humane Endpoints, and Euthanasia significantly higher than male students did across the three stages of study. The score patterns for these three variates showed a trend for the male students to be more likely to score these topics as extremely important as they advanced through the course, but female students' scores tended to decline slightly or stay relatively stable. No gender differences emerged for the three variates: 3Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction); AEC Procedures or Requirements; and "What Is a Research Animal?". This study demonstrates that understandings of the regulatory and normative frameworks are considered most important in animal welfare and ethics competence in veterinary students. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study to investigate what importance veterinary students place on their competence regarding animals kept for scientific purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalVeterinary Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • 3Rs
  • animal welfare
  • conscientious objection
  • Day One Competence
  • euthanasia
  • gender
  • humane endpoint
  • research animals
  • veterinary education
  • veterinary ethics


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