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Moral Injury in Veterinary Professions


Audio and video

What is moral injury in the veterinary profession? A VETchat podcast hosted by veterinarian Anthony Chadwick (founder of The Webinar Vet) with guests Lydia Brown (veterinarian, Former President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and member of the ICMI steering group) and Brian Powers (Executive Director of the ICMI). Watch on YouTube | Listen on Spotify or other podcast platform


Victoria Williamson et al., “Veterinary professionals’ experiences of moral injury: A qualitative studyVet Record (2022) 

A study that links existing notions of Moral Injury, notably that of Litz et al. (2009), to the experiences of veterinary practitioners in the UK. It finds that they may be vulnerable to moral injury through a set of potentially morally injurious events unique to the veterinary profession – notably the culling of livestock and the elective euthanising of healthy animals at the request of owners.

Susan C. Kahler, “Moral stress the top trigger in veterinarians’ compassion fatigue Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 246 (2015) pp.16-18

An article featuring an interview with Dr Elizabeth Strand, Director of the Veterinary Social Work Program at the University of Tennessee. She notes the high levels of moral stress that veterinarians face, most prominently in handling ethical dilemmas involving the euthanasia of animals. She notes that US veterinarians have significantly higher rates of suicidal ideation and depression than the rest of the American populace.

James W. Yeates and David C. J. Main, “Veterinary opinions on refusing euthanasia: Justifications and philosophical frameworks Veterinary Record 168 (2011) p. 263 

An article exploring the frameworks that seem to govern veterinary opinions on euthanising animals and the criteria they use to decide not to euthanise an animal. In terms of Moral Injury, this article details a lot of the ethical dilemmas that are most troubling and potentially morally injurious in the long term for veterinary professionals. 

Victoria Williamson et al., “Experiences and impact of moral injury in U.K. veterinary professional wellbeingEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology 13 (2022)

A quantitative study finding that 89% of veterinary professionals responding to an anonymous online questionnaire reported exposure to potentially morally injurious events.  It noted that nearly 70% of respondents experienced ‘betrayal’ types of Moral Injury when moral violations by colleagues impacted them significantly.