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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Restrictive but not restricted: Perspectives on antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance among Swedish dairy veterinarians

Grondal, Hedvig; Fall, Nils; Blanco-Penedo, Isabel; Sternberg-Lewerin, Susanna


Background and aims
In Europe, the antimicrobial use (AMU) for food-producing animals has decreased rapidly. However, studies indicate that a too strict policy, with too restrictive AMU, is potentially problematic for veterinarians because it threatens animal welfare and creates tensions between farmers and veterinarians. The AMU in Sweden is among the lowest in Europe, and regulation of AMU in farm animals is strict. The aim of our study was to explore how Swedish veterinarians describe the relations between (1) being restrictive with antibiotics due to the risk of AMR and (2) concerns for animal welfare and/or the veterinarian-client relationship.

Semi-structured interviews with 21 veterinarians, working with dairy cattle, were performed. The transcripts were analysed, and a number of dominant patterns which recurred in all, or most of, the interviews were identified.

The interviewed veterinarians described AMR prevention and tackling the threat AMR poses towards public health, as central for their profession and as influencing their everyday practice and decisions on AMU. Importantly, veterinarians described accounting for AMR in everyday practice as fairly unproblematic, both in relation to animal welfare as well as in relation to farmers. The veterinarians generally perceived that they could treat animals with antibiotics when justified, and being restrictive with antibiotics was described as an expression of professional skill and not as challenging as animal welfare. Moreover, they stated that restrictive AMU seldom or never caused conflicts with farmers.

Strict AMU policy and restrictive AMU do not necessarily put veterinarians in a problematic position where they are caught between conflicting demands and risks.

Published in

Veterinary Record Open
2021, Volume: 8, number: 1, article number: e25