Empathic veterinarians score cattle pain higher

Marianna Norring*, Ingela Wikman, Ann Helena Hokkanen, Miiamaaria V. Kujala, Laura Hänninen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The treatment of cattle pain often relies upon veterinarians. The aim of this study was to qualify the influence of veterinarians skills, attitudes, and empathy on cattle pain assesment and consequently disbudding pain management. A web-based questionnaire was sent to Finnish veterinary students in either the preclinical or clinical stage, and also to production-animal practice oriented veterinarians. The questionnaire recorded demographics, statements of opinions, pain scoring of cattle conditions and procedures. Empathy towards humans (Interpersonal Reactivity Index, IRI) and reworded IRI to measure empathy towards animals were also covered.The overall response rate was approximately 40%. The association between pain and empathy scores were analyzed by Pearsońs correlation, and the factors affecting pain scores and empathy towards animals analyzed using linear models. The need for pain medication of calves during disbudding was well recognized and the intention to treat such pain was very common. Higher mean scores for cattle pain were associated with greater empathy towards humans. On average, respondents' empathy towards animals was greater than towards humans, and was associated with respondents' empathy towards humans, family size and attachment to family pet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-190
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Animal
  • Cattle
  • Disbudding
  • Empathy
  • Pain score
  • Welfare


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