Veterinarians are confronted with moral challenges related to euthanasia in small animalpractice. Especially financial aspects, euthanasia of healthy animals (convenienceeuthanasia) as well as the problem of overtreatment of animals with poor prognosis aredescribed in the literature as the most common dilemmas and subject of controversialdebates within the field of veterinary medical ethics. The aim of this dissertation is to gainfurther insights into the attitudes and beliefs of the Austrian veterinarians towards euthanasiaand to explore moral challenges in light of the published literature and empirical studies.Out of 2478 contacted veterinarians, 486 sent sufficiently completed questionnaires thatcould be analyzed. The data show that euthanasia implicates complex decision-makingprocesses and the attitudes of Austrian veterinarians vary with, for example, workingexperience, gender and age. Further, the results indicate that beside medical and patientcenteredfactors (e.g. avoiding suffering), various external aspects such as strong emotionalbonds or financial constraints play a crucial role and influence decisions. Contrary to thedominating argument in the literature that moral stress is caused by the colliding principles toprotect life and end suffering, it is argued that external factors are more likely to urgeveterinarians into morally challenging situations. In the concluding discussion, training to dealwith moral challenges in teaching programs and in form of clinical ethics support services inpractice are debated.
Publication(s) resulting from University thesis:
Springer, S; Grimm, H
(2018): Euthanasie als Thema der veterinärmedizinischen Ethik.
Wiener Tierarztliche Monatsschrift 105(5-6): 129-138.