Hellyer PW, Frederick C, Lacy M, Salman MD, Wagner AE. Attitudes of veterinary medical students, house officers, clinical faculty, and staff toward pain management in animals. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999 Jan 15;214(2):238-44

PMID: 9926017


Objective: To determine whether animal factors and level of professional veterinary medical training were associated with attitudes toward pain management in animals.

Design: Exploratory, descriptive survey.

Sample population: Students in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences professional veterinary medical curriculum (approx 540) and clinical faculty (approx 50), house officers (approx 25), and support staff (approx 100) in the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Procedure: A descriptive survey including demographic, descriptive, and case-based questions was distributed to participants. Participation was voluntary and survey results were anonymous.

Results: 357 of 720 surveys were completed and returned (31 by faculty, 29 by staff, 18 by house officers, and 279 by students). There was a high degree of concordance among survey participants regarding the overall importance of treating pain in animals. The extent to which pain should be alleviated and animal factors, such as breed, behavior, and clinical circumstances, accounted for much of the discordance among survey groups. Fourth-year veterinary students indicated that they were occasionally less likely to treat animals for pain than were second- or third-year veterinary students.

Clinical implications: The diversity of opinions regarding the necessity or desirability of treating pain in animals, the apparent decrease in the likelihood of senior veterinary students to treat animals for pain under certain circumstances, and evidence of knowledge deficits regarding analgesic treatments among all groups contribute to the likelihood that pain in animals will neither be consistently recognized nor appropriately treated.