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What do European veterinary codes of conduct actually say and mean? A case study approach
  1. M. Magalhães-Sant'Ana, DVM, MSc, PhD1,
  3. D. B. Morton, BVSc, PhD, FSB, DipECLAM(ret), DipECAWBM, MRCVS, CBE3,
  4. M. Osborne, MVB, CertESM, MRCVS4 and
  5. A. Hanlon, BSc, MSc, PhD5
  1. 1School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland On secondment from: Escola Universitária Vasco da Gama, Coimbra, Portugal
  2. 2Centre for Vet. Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3School of BioSciences, University of Birmingham, Valeilles, France
  4. 4Forenaghts Stud, Naas, Ireland
  5. 5School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. E-mail for correspondence mdsantana{at}


Codes of Professional Conduct (CPCs) are pivotal instruments of self-regulation, providing the standards to which veterinarians should, and sometimes must, comply. Despite their importance to the training and guidance of veterinary professionals, research is lacking on the scope and emphasis of the requirements set out in veterinary CPCs. This paper provides the first systematic investigation of veterinary CPCs. It relies on a case study approach, combining content and thematic analyses of five purposively selected European CPCs: Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), Denmark, Ireland, Portugal and the UK. Eight overarching themes were identified, including ‘definitions and framing concepts’, ‘duties to animals’, ‘duties to clients’, ‘duties to other professionals’, ‘duties to competent authorities’, ‘duties to society’, ‘professionalism’ and ‘practice-related issues’. Some differences were observed, which may be indicative of different approaches to the regulation of the veterinary profession in Europe (which is reflected in having a ‘code of ethics’ or a ‘code of conduct’), cultural differences on the status of animals in society, and regulatory bodies’ proactivity in adapting to professional needs and to societal changes regarding the status of animals. These findings will contribute to an improved understanding of the roles of CPCs in regulating the veterinary profession in Europe.

  • Ethics
  • Veterinary profession
  • Regulations
  • Welfare
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