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A preliminary investigation into the moral reasoning abilities of UK veterinarians
  1. C. E. M. Batchelor, BSc MSc PhD,
  2. A. Creed, BVMS and
  3. D. E. F. McKeegan, BSc MSc PhD
  1. Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Jarrett Building, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
  1. Correspondence to E-mail for correspondence: dorothy.mckeegan{at}


Veterinary medicine is an ethically challenging profession, but the ethical reasoning abilities of practising veterinarians in the UK have never been formally assessed. This study investigated moral reasoning ability in 65 qualified veterinarians (38 practising and 27 academic) and 33 members of the public in the UK using the Defining Issues Test. Academic veterinarians had higher scores than members of the public but practising veterinarians did not. There was large variation in moral reasoning abilities among qualified veterinarians. Moral reasoning score in veterinarians did not improve with years of experience. These results show that despite having a professional degree moral reasoning skills of practising veterinarians may be insufficient to deal with the demands of their profession. This could have implications for animal welfare, client services and veterinarian wellbeing. The results highlight the need for more training in this area.

  • moral reasoning
  • Defining Issues Test
  • ethcial dilemma
  • veterinary
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