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A systematic review of public attitudes, perceptions and behaviours towards production diseases associated with farm animal welfare

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Beth ClarkORCiD, Dr Gavin Stewart, Dr Luca Panzone, Professor Ilias Kyriazakis, Professor Lynn FrewerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Increased productivity may have negative impacts on farm animal welfare (FAW) in modern animal production systems. Efficiency gains in production are primarily thought to be due to the intensification of production, and this has been associated with in increased incidence of production diseases, which can negatively impact upon FAW. While there is a considerable body of research into consumer attitudes towards FAW, the extent to which this relates specifically to a reduction in production diseases in intensive systems, and whether the increased incidence of diseases represents a barrier to consumer acceptance of their increased use, requires further investigation. Therefore a systematic review of public attitudes towards FAW was conducted, with a specific focus on production diseases in intensive systems. Four databases were searched to identify relevant studies. A screening process, using a set of pre-determined inclusion criteria, identified 80 studies, with the strength of evidence and uncertainty assessed for each. A thematic analysis led to the identification of 6 overarching themes constructed from 15 subthemes. The results demonstrate that the public are concerned about FAW in modern production systems. Concern varied in relation to age, gender, education and familiarity with farming. Naturalness and humane treatment were central to what was considered good welfare. An evidence gap was highlighted in relation to attitudes towards specific production diseases, with no studies specifically addressing this. However, the prophylactic use of antibiotics was identified as a concern. A number of dissonance strategies were adopted by consumers to enable guilt free meat consumption.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clark B, Stewart GB, Panzone LA, Kyriazakis I, Frewer LJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

Year: 2016

Volume: 29

Issue: 3

Pages: 455-478

Print publication date: 01/06/2016

Online publication date: 27/04/2016

Acceptance date: 11/04/2016

Date deposited: 14/04/2016

ISSN (print): 1187-7863

ISSN (electronic): 1573-322X

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10806-016-9615-x


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Funder referenceFunder name
613574European Commission