Core Principles of Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine

On 29 October 2012, the EBVMA passed, via ballot, the first version of the Core Principles of Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine*. The next revision will involve documenting evidence, examples, action and adoption strategies, as well as additional principles or precepts. If you’re interesting in participating, please contact us at

1. Scientific Research is Our Most Reliable Source of Information

The principles and methods of science, and the data generated by controlled scientific research, are the most reliable basis for conclusions about the maintenance of good health, the causes of disease, and the safety and efficacy of medical therapies in animals. Properly designed and executed research is more reliable than uncontrolled individual observations, historical practice, expert opinion, and other informal sources of information, and such research evidence should be given primacy in evaluating theories or practices in veterinary medicine.

2. Veterinarians Should Base Their Practice on the Best Available Scientific Evidence

As licensed professionals granted an exclusive right to practice veterinary medicine, veterinarians have an ethical duty to society, as well as our patients and their owners, to base our judgments and recommendations on the best available scientific evidence whenever possible. In the absence of high-level or high-quality research evidence, veterinarians should view their practices as provisional and subject to re-evaluation as the evidence-base improves.

3. Informed Consent Requires Disclosure of the Scientific Evidence Supporting Recommendations

Owners must be fully informed in order to be able to exercise their right to authorize or decline veterinary care for their animals. Veterinarians should clearly and honestly disclose the scientific evidence concerning the therapies they recommend, including the degree of uncertainty, so that their clients can have a truly free and informed choice.

4. Veterinary Professional Organizations Should Support and Encourage Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine

Professional organizations representing veterinarians should support an approach to veterinary practice founded on science and the principles of evidence-based medicine. Such organizations should encourage their members to conscientiously and explicitly seek out and disclose the evidence informing their interventions and should discourage the application of theories and practices demonstrated by good evidence to be ineffective or incompatible with the established scientific understanding of the fundamental processes underlying health and disease.

5. Colleges of Veterinary Medicine Should Teach Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine

Institutions responsible for educating veterinary students and veterinarians should actively promote a science-based approach to veterinary medicine and should explicitly teach the principles and techniques of evidence-based medicine. While institutions of higher learning should always encourage wide-ranging inquiry and the questioning of established dogma, they should also ensure their students understand the philosophical and evidentiary bases for current scientific consensus and the responsibility veterinarians have to base their judgments and recommendations on the best available scientific evidence.

6. Veterinary Journals Should Support the High Quality and Accessibility of Published Scientific Research

The integration of evidence from systematic research into clinical practice requires that research results be available to clinicians in a high quality and accessible form. Publishers of veterinary research should encourage clear and effective research reporting by implementing systematic publication standards, such as the CONSORT and REFLECT statements. And publishers of veterinary journals should endeavor to make these research reports available as efficiently and economically as possible to veterinarians in clinical practice.

*Editors note: We’d like to thank Dr. Brennen McKenzie (past EBVMA President), the EBVMA Board of Directors and others who spearheaded this effort and helped to prepare the initial drafts.

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