Veterinarians' Competence in Applying Basic Genetic Principles and Daily Implementation of Clinical Genetics: A Study in a University Environment

Evelien Bogaerts, Else den Boer, Luc Peelman, Filip Van Nieuwerburgh, Hille Fieten, Jimmy H Saunders, Bart J G Broeckx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Veterinarian competency in genetics is vital for a meaningful application of the rapidly growing number of genetic tests available for animals. We evaluated the use of genetic tests in the daily veterinary practice and the competency of university-employed veterinarians in applying basic principles of genetics in a clinical setting through an electronic survey with 14 cases and 7 statements on genetics. Ninety-one non-geneticist veterinarians from two veterinary faculties in two different countries responded. Almost half of the participants apply genetic tests during their daily work, with frequencies varying between weekly and once a year. The most common indication to request a genetic test was diagnostic testing of clinically ill patients. Although 80% of the veterinarians communicated the result of a genetic test themselves, only 56% of them found it "very to rather easy" to find the correct test, and only 32% of them always felt competent to interpret the result of the test. The number of correctly answered questions varied widely, with median scores of 9/14 (range 0-14) and 5/7 (range 0-7) for the cases and statements, respectively. Most difficulties were seen with recognition of pedigree inheritance patterns, while veterinarians scored better in breeding advice and probability of disease estimations. Veterinarians scored best on questions related to autosomal recessive inheritance, followed by complex, autosomal dominant, X-linked recessive, and X-linked dominant inheritance. This study exposed pain points in veterinarians' knowledge and has led to the formulation of recommendations for future education and communication between laboratories, geneticists, and veterinarians.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20210029
Pages (from-to)799-806
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number6
Early online date28 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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