Animal Studies Bibliography

Shurtleff, R. S., P. Grant, M. E. Zeglen, W. F. McCulloch, and L. K. Bustad. 1983. A nationwide study of veterinary students' values and attitudes on ethical issues. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 9(3): 93-96.

Purpose : To address four areas: veterinary student's attitudes about ethical issues in the profession; relationship between these attitudes and demographic factors (age, sex); what the students believe caused them to have these attitudes; and how students rate current ethical teaching in vet school.

Independent variables/operational definitions : sex, age, year in vet school, employment preference after graduation (private practice (and what type--small animal, food animal, etc.), teaching, research, government, industry, other), animal ownership (types of animal owned), having had course in vet ethics

Dependent variables/operational definitions : attitudes about veterinary ethical issues--25 items

Findings : More than 90% of students identified private practice as their career goal, mostly desiring mixed (50%) or small animal (22%) practice. More had owned pets than would be expected in the general population--96% had had dogs, 79% cats, 49% horses, and 8-30% had various farm animals (chickens, goats, pigs, etc.). 56% had had coursework in ethics. In identifying the source of their professional values, nearly half of respondents cited parents' values. Other major categories were vets known before entering vet school and religious values. There was no significant male/female difference. Fourth year students were slightly less likely than first year students to believe vets had community responsibilities that required after-hours work and the like. This might be a cohort effect or the result of vet training, but the study design does not allow us to determine which. All respondents disagreed that the primary function of vet medicine was to safeguard human health, except for those interested in food animal medicine, who slightly agreed. In weighing animals' versus owners' rights (e.g. an owner's request to euthanize a healthy animal or have a dog's ears cropped), women supported animals' rights slightly more than men, but both sexes gave more moderate responses as fourth-years than did first-years, perhaps due to greater experience working with owners. Again, students interested in food animal medicine supported owners' rights much more than any other group. Women in both classes were less supportive of hunting and the use of leghold traps. Both sexes and classes agreed in condemning dog and cockfighting, but these views again varied by occupational preference, with food animal specialists much more supportive of hunting, leghold traps, and animal fighting. Both males and females opposed reducing the use of live animals in surgery, with 4th-years more opposed than 1st-years and the food animal students most opposed. On whether animal research was justified by human benefit, men agreed more strongly than women, with no class differences and students planning research careers the most supportive. On whether animal experience pain like humans do, both men and women agreed, 1st-years agreeing more strongly than 4th-years, and students planning research careers were nearly neutral. 4th-years were more skeptical of animal welfare groups than were 1st-years, and the research students felt most strongly that these groups went against the goals of veterinary medicine. There was general agreement that training in ethics and animal rights issues was necessary, with students planning teaching careers most supportive of this and of the need for continuing education, which 4th years supported more than 1st-years. Less than half the students felt they had had enough training in ethics, with 4th-years less comfortable with their amount of training than 1st-years.

Sample/population sampled : Of 22 vet schools participating in the 8th Symposium on Veterinary Medical Education, 16 schools returned data. Questionnaires were given to 854 students, 20% of the 4th-year and the 1st-year classes at these 16 schools. 271 1st-years (62% response rate) and 172 4th-years (41% response rate) returned the forms.



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