Pennsylvania veterinarian perspectives of antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance

Open Access
Foley, Caitlin Ann
Graduate Program:
Agricultural and Extension Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 28, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Rama B Radhakrishna, Dissertation Advisor
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • John Ewing, Committee Member
  • Bhushan M Jayarao, Special Member
  • veterinarian
  • perspectives
  • antibiotic resistance
  • livestock
Antibiotic drugs have been used to combat pathogenic bacteria for over fifty years and have proven to be one of the most valuable tools in preserving human and animal health. With an increase in the use and availability of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance has become a public health concern and has received much attention from government agencies, public interest groups, and the media. There is disagreement within the medical, veterinary, and regulatory communities regarding the veterinary use of antibiotics and associated risks to public health, and it is therefore important to investigate the many facets of antibiotic use and encourage the development of educational programs and resources for all stakeholders. This study focused on the use of a conceptual framework and survey instruments to explore the beliefs, knowledge and practices of veterinarians and to assess the current status of available educational resources pertaining to antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate a wide variety of Pennsylvania veterinarians in order to identify relationships and differences between their perspectives, and facilitate the development of educational programs and strategies to benefit the field of veterinary medicine, animal industry stakeholders, and the public. A non-experimental, descriptive-correlational research design was used to develop this study that focused on the population of all veterinarians licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania. Survey instruments were designed to capture the perspectives of two different groups of veterinarians: Group 1 – food/large animal vets, and Group 2 – all other vets. The surveys contained three sections to obtain demographic information, veterinarian perspectives of antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance across five perspectives dimensions (Antibiotic Resistance, Antibiotic Use, Veterinary Clientele, the General Public, and Veterinarian Practices), and perspectives of available educational resources. Veterinarians attending the PVMA Keystone conference completed a total of 66 usable paper surveys, and veterinarians contacted via email listservs completed 284 usable internet-based surveys. Findings indicated that the two groups of veterinarians possessed varied perceptions across the five perspectives dimensions, and that significant differences in perspectives existed (p < .05). Data also indicated that the two groups of veterinarians recommended different types of antibiotic drugs for disease treatment and prevention. Significant relationships existed between the select demographic variables (gender and years post-graduation from veterinary school) and the five perspectives dimensions. Findings also indicated the need for educational materials and resources regarding antibiotic resistance for veterinarians, veterinary staff, veterinary clientele, and the general public; and concluded that veterinarians may be the best resource for educating their staff and clientele. Several modes for disseminating educational information to stakeholders were also identified, with veterinarian preferences shown for journals, veterinary specific websites, and continuing education (CE) events. Further research is necessary to determine the status of veterinary knowledge, beliefs and practices of antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in Pennsylvania, and this study provides a basis for further inquiry. It is the hope that the descriptive findings of this study will provide valuable insight for veterinary practitioners, and stimulate thought and discussion among the veterinary profession and key stakeholders.