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To report, or not to report, animal abuse: the role of perceived self-efficacy in veterinarians’ decision-making


Background Veterinarians are on the frontline of animal welfare, but little is known about the factors that facilitate their decision to report cases of abuse to authorities. Using perceived self-efficacy as a basis, the primary aim of this study was to examine the psychological and experiential factors linked to veterinarians’ reporting behaviour.

Methods We administered questionnaires to 176 veterinarians assessing the amount of training received on detecting/reporting animal abuse, perceived self-efficacy to report animal abuse, and whether they have reported animal abuse incidents to the relevant authorities.

Results We found that perceived self-efficacy positively correlated with suspecting and reporting animal abuse, number of hours of specialised training, and years working in practice. As hypothesised, we also found that perceived self-efficacy explained the relationship between specialised training (in hours) and reporting animal abuse.

Conclusions These findings highlight the psychological impact of specialised training on veterinarians’ reporting behaviour. Simply put, specialist training equips veterinarians with the confidence and self-efficacy to report suspected cases of animal abuse. The implications for training curriculum and veterinary policy are discussed.

  • Animal abuse
  • non-accidental injury
  • veterinary curriculum
  • reporting behaviour
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