Development of a discriminative questionnaire to assess nonphysical aspects of quality of life of dogs

Janina I. Wojciechowska Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada.
Present address is the Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia.

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 DVM, MSc
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Caroline J. Hewson Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada.

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Henrik Stryhn Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre and the Department of Health Management, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada.

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Norma C. Guy Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada.

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Gary J. Patronek Department of Environmental and Population Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Vianne Timmons Atlantic Veterinary College, and the Department of Education, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada.

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Abstract

Objective—To develop a preliminary discriminative questionnaire for assessment of nonphysical aspects of the quality of life (QOL) of pet dogs and evaluate the questionnaire's content validity, test-retest reliability, and internal consistency.

Study Population—Owners of 120 dogs.

Procedure—Each QOL question had 4 response options, representing descending levels of QOL that were equally weighted. A maximum of 38 items contributed to the QOL score. The questionnaire was administered by telephone to owners of dogs with appointments at a veterinary teaching hospital before the appointment. After the appointment, each dog was classified as sick or healthy by use of defined criteria; owners of healthy dogs had a second interview 3 to 4 weeks later. Test-retest reliability (κ), internal consistency (Cronbach α), and respondents' comprehension were used as criteria for excluding an item.

Results—There were 77 sick and 43 healthy dogs. Twenty-two QOL questions had significant κ values (0.11 to 0.91). The Cronbach α values for 5 domains of QOL ranged from 0.45 to 0.61, indicating that the domains had moderate internal consistency (homogeneity). The initial pool of 38 items was reduced to 27.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The questionnaire was designed to complement veterinary assessment of dogs' physical health. The questionnaire may be a useful tool in making decisions regarding dogs' QOL. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1453–1460)

Abstract

Objective—To develop a preliminary discriminative questionnaire for assessment of nonphysical aspects of the quality of life (QOL) of pet dogs and evaluate the questionnaire's content validity, test-retest reliability, and internal consistency.

Study Population—Owners of 120 dogs.

Procedure—Each QOL question had 4 response options, representing descending levels of QOL that were equally weighted. A maximum of 38 items contributed to the QOL score. The questionnaire was administered by telephone to owners of dogs with appointments at a veterinary teaching hospital before the appointment. After the appointment, each dog was classified as sick or healthy by use of defined criteria; owners of healthy dogs had a second interview 3 to 4 weeks later. Test-retest reliability (κ), internal consistency (Cronbach α), and respondents' comprehension were used as criteria for excluding an item.

Results—There were 77 sick and 43 healthy dogs. Twenty-two QOL questions had significant κ values (0.11 to 0.91). The Cronbach α values for 5 domains of QOL ranged from 0.45 to 0.61, indicating that the domains had moderate internal consistency (homogeneity). The initial pool of 38 items was reduced to 27.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The questionnaire was designed to complement veterinary assessment of dogs' physical health. The questionnaire may be a useful tool in making decisions regarding dogs' QOL. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1453–1460)

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