Published: 20 Nov 2019 | Last Updated: 25 Nov 2019 17:05:44

In a first for the profession, 15 of the major UK member organisations, vet schools and policy-making bodies – including the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) – have today come together to affirm their commitment to veterinary medicine based on sound scientific principles, in a new landmark publication produced by RCVS Knowledge and the charity Sense about Science.

Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Matters: Our Commitment to the Future represents the first time this broad and influential group have formally united in support of a single issue. This unprecedented collaboration is testament to the importance that veterinary organisations across the profession place on the use of evidence to enhance all types of veterinary medicine.

The publication serves to demonstrate the profound and wide-ranging impact that evidence can have – and has had – on animal health and welfare. It also provides a convincing rationale for all veterinary professionals to contribute to the evidence base and put evidence into practice, to the benefit of animals, owners and veterinary teams themselves.

The commitment is set in the context of 14 case studies that showcase the impact of standout veterinary research and evidence in the 20th and 21st centuries. Spanning small animal, farm, equine, nursing, animal welfare and agriculture, the case studies show that different types of evidence have been vital to significant steps forward in veterinary medicine.

Evidence has been at the heart of the eradication of the cattle disease rinderpest, successful strategies to prevent bird flu, and the rapid and accurate diagnosis of colic – one of the most common causes of death in horses. Evidence has also been core to the development of new techniques to treat bulldogs with breathing problems, new methods to reduce seizures in dogs with epilepsy, and faster means of detecting antimicrobial resistance, among many other valuable advances.

Evidence-based veterinary medicine matters

“When rigorous research underpins medical decisions, adverse events can be minimised, and patient outcomes can be improved.

“We believe evidence-based veterinary medicine reinforces the sound scientific principles of the profession and strengthens the commitment to put animal health and welfare at the forefront of all we do.” 

The charity RCVS Knowledge has been championing the use of evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) for the past five years, and provides a variety of tools, resources and education to the professions. Jacqui Molyneux, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said:

Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Matters is a milestone publication for the professions, representing the first time the majority of the key institutions have aligned under the same EBVM banner.

“A celebration of decades of incredible discoveries, achievements and improvements in animal health, it also serves to remind us that even the earliest forms of veterinary medicine were underpinned by evidence.”

UK Chief Vet Christine Middlemiss said: “What’s the evidence? An evidence-based approach is vital in all areas of our profession, whatever is keeping you awake at night. For me, it is the threat of African swine fever and avian flu. The evidence I rely on comes from our specialist surveillance monitoring and testing, veterinary epidemiologists and disease modellers. It enables me to make timely, proportionate risk-based decisions that stand up to scrutiny.

“If you are managing veterinary care in practice, the evidence you rely on to underpin your standards of clinical care comes from multiple sources too. Evidence-based veterinary medicine allows us to refine and tailor strategies to be effective and efficient, making full use of existing and new technologies.

“The profession has taken great strides towards embracing evidence-based veterinary medicine and building on this will strengthen the links between clinical decision-making, policy development and future research.”

Dr Rowena Packer, BBSRC Research Fellow at the RVC, commented:

“Evidence is a vital tool of veterinary medicine; it has been used to eradicate diseases and to prevent them. This unprecedented commitment allows the veterinary industry to unite on this commitment, which will allow us to find a common approach to tackling the issues that are facing animals.

“We are delighted to be a part of this collaboration and in particular, providing research outcomes which have helped to widen the management options for dogs with epilepsy, and put the use of dietary supplements on more solid scientific ground.”

The full commitment and portfolio of case studies can be read in Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Matters, available for free online:

Notes to Editors

The 15 signatories to the commitment are:

  • Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • British Cattle Veterinary Association
  • British Equine Veterinary Association
  • British Small Animal Veterinary Association
  • British Veterinary Association
  • British Veterinary Nursing Association
  • RCVS Knowledge
  • Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Surrey
  • Veterinary Policy Research Foundation
  1. RCVS Knowledge is the charity partner of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. RCVS Knowledge’s mission is ‘To advance the quality of veterinary care for the benefit of animals, the public, and society.’ The charity meets this mission, primarily, by championing the use of an evidence-based approach to veterinary medicine, inspiring a culture of continuous quality improvement in practice, and making our resources available to the profession and wider public. 
  2. Founded in 2002, Sense about Science is an independent charity that works to ensure the public interest in sound science and evidence is recognised in public life and policy making. A small team working with thousands of supporters, from world leading researchers to community groups, the charity focuses on socially and scientifically difficult issues where evidence is neglected, politicised or misleading.

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London. It was the first in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • The RVC is ranked as the world’s number one veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2019.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

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