Anxiety in veterinary surgical students: a quantitative study

Rikke Langebæk, Berit Eika, Asger Lundorff Jensen, Lene Tanggaard, Nils Toft, Mette Berendt

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The surgical educational environment is potentially stressful and this can negatively affect students' learning. The aim of this study was to investigate whether veterinary students' level of anxiety is higher in a surgical course than in a non-surgical course and if pre-surgical training in a Surgical Skills Lab (SSL) has an anxiety reducing effect. Investigations were carried out as a comparative study and a parallel group study. Potential participants were fourth-year veterinary students who attended a surgical course (Basic Surgical Skills) and a non-surgical course (Clinical Examination Skills); both courses were offered in multiple classes (with a total of 171 students in 2009 and 156 students in 2010). All classes in 2009 participated in the SSL stage of the Basic Surgical Skills course before performing live-animal surgery, and one class (28 students) in 2010 did not. Two validated anxiety questionnaires (Spielberger's state-trait anxiety inventory and Cox and Kenardy's performance anxiety questionnaire) were used. Anxiety levels were measured before the non-surgical course (111 students from 2009) and before live-animal surgery during the surgical course (153 students from 2009 and 28 students from 2010). Our results show that anxiety levels in veterinary students are significantly higher in a surgical course than in a non-surgical course (p<.001), and that practicing in a SSL helps reduce anxiety before live-animal surgery (p<.005).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)331-340
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • learning
  • veterinary students
  • skills lab
  • anxiety
  • surgery
  • learning environment

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