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Sources and frequency of use of pet health information and level of confidence in information accuracy, as reported by owners visiting small animal veterinary practices

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 Department of Psychology, College of Natural Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

Objective—To gain a better understanding of sources and frequency of use of pet health information accessed by owners and assess the level of confidence in information accuracy as reported by pet owners who visit their veterinarians.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—412 participants from 17 small animal veterinary clinics.

Procedures—Questionnaires pertaining to pet owners' habits related to pet health information (sources and frequency of their use and confidence in accuracy of information accessed) were distributed by front desk staff at 17 participating veterinary clinics. A cover letter was included with each survey that offered instructions for completion and assured respondents of their anonymity. All completed surveys were placed in an envelope and returned to the researchers for analysis.

Results—Results indicated that pet owners who visited their veterinarians acquired pet information from veterinarians via the telephone or in person and from family or friends more frequently than they acquired such information from the World Wide Web. Pet owners also reported more confidence in information received from veterinarians (in person and via telephone conversations), compared with information from any other accessible source.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The use of Web sites by owners as sources of pet health information will undoubtedly continue to grow. Veterinarians can play a more proactive role in helping pet owners to access reliable Web sites that provide useful pet health information, thereby providing a benefit to all parties.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Kogan.