Veterinary Education Symposium 2012: Anthrozoology

Teaching: Veterinary Education Symposium: Anthrozoology, the One Health Initiative, and Addressing Inequalities through Education and Research.

Ideas and innovations: There is growing research into anthrozoology, the study of human-animal interactions, and the meanings for education.1


The One Health Initiative seeks to improve the health of humans and animals. The Initiative has focussed on infectious diseases although other diseases (degenerative, metabolic, neoplastic, etc.) are being investigated.2


In human medicine, health inequalities refer particularly to variations in incidence and outcomes in health across socio-economic groups.3 These inequalities are widening in many countries, they are considered morally wrong and damaging to society.4


A literature search of anthrozoology, One Health Initiative and other databases found little about health inequalities in veterinary medicine. However the literature suggests that the determinants of health and their weightings are broadly similar in veterinary medicine as in human medicine, that is, when separated by environment – physical (10%), biological (15%), healthcare (25%), socio-economic (50%).5


Next stages: To set up a network with veterinary professionals with these objectives –

(1) to research the hypothesis that inequalities exist in veterinary health and to identify the determinants and weightings in these environments;

(2) to test the feasibility of introducing into veterinary education the concepts of these environments to reduce inequalities.


Conclusions: It seems likely that there are inequalities of incidence and outcome in animals related to their owners’ socio-economic positions. These inequalities need to be researched for their aetiologies and for effective remedies in keeping with the concepts of the One Health Initiative and wider anthrozoological studies. Veterinary students need to know that the determinants of animal health are more than healthcare.

1 Research in Human-Animal Interaction: and International Society for Anthrozoology:


2 One Health Initiative: and Profile:


3 Marmot, M. (2009). Tackling Health Inequalities: 10 Years On. London: Department of Health.


4 Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2009). The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. London: Allen Lane.


5 Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. (1994). Evans, R. G., Barer, M. L., Marmor, T. R. eds. Why Are Some People Healthy and Others Not? The Determinants of Health of Populations. New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Copyright © Dr Iain J Robbé 2012

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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980; MRCS, LRCP, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have reactivated my licence to practise and I am providing telephone support to vulnerable elderly to assist them during the pandemic. I remain active as a Clinical Medical Educationist participating in a number of projects with the universities of St Mary’s and Dalhousie in Nova Scotia and Mount Allison in New Brunswick, inter alia, and separately with three of the veterinary schools in the UK. My focus is on teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, and communications, and particularly the influences of vernacular architecture on the creation of positive learning experiences in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. I have the degree of Master in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and the degree of Master in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001). The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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