UBC Faculty Research and Publications

To Treat or Not to Treat: Public Attitudes on the Therapeutic Use of Antibiotics in the Dairy Industry—A Qualitative Study Knowlton, Katharine F.; von Keyserlingk, Marina A. G.


This paper describes the views of 779 U.S. residents on questions related to therapeutic antibiotic use in dairy cattle. An online survey was conducted with qualitative (open-ended) questions. Respondents were offered one of three scenarios with varying degrees of information describing a farmer with a sick cow that would benefit from antibiotic therapy. The text replies to the open-ended questions were analyzed by grouping responses with similar comments and identifying patterns or themes. Content analysis showed that many of the participants in this study provided farmers with the social license to treat sick cows with antibiotics; however, some participants commented on the social license not necessarily extending to antibiotic use for growth promotion or prophylactic use. Our findings are not generalizable, but may provide some insight that should be considered when developing policies and practices regarding the use of antibiotics on dairy farms that may promote improved alignment with societal values.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


CC BY 4.0