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Evaluation of a questionnaire for obtaining owner-perceived, weighted quality-of-life assessments for dogs with spinal cord injuries

Christine M. Budke DVM, PhD1, Jonathan M. Levine DVM, DACVIM2, Sharon C. Kerwin DVM, MS, DACVS3, Gwendolyn J. Levine DVM4, Bianca F. Hettlich T, DACVS5, and Margaret R. Slater DVM, PhD6
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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 2 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 3 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 4 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 5 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 6 Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate a questionnaire for obtaining owner-perceived, weighted quality-oflife assessments for dogs with spinal cord injuries.

Design—Evaluation study.

Animals—100 dogs with spinal cord injuries and 48 healthy control dogs.

Procedures—The questionnaire was adapted from a questionnaire (the schedule for the evaluation of individual quality of life–direct weighting) used for human patients. Specifically, owners were asked to identify 5 areas or activities they believed had the most influence on their dogs' quality of life, assess their dogs' current status in each of those areas, and provide a weighting for the importance of each area. Results were used to construct a weighted quality-of-life score ranging from 0 to 100 for each dog. Owners were also asked to provide a quality-of-life score with a visual analog scale (VAS).

Results—A good correlation was found between weighted and VAS quality-of-life scores. Dogs with spinal cord injuries had weighted quality-of-life scores that were significantly lower than scores for control dogs. Quality-of-life areas and activities provided by owners of dogs with spinal cord injuries were similar to areas and activities provided by owners of healthy control dogs and could mostly be encompassed by 5 broader domains: mobility, play or mental stimulation, health, companionship, and other.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that the questionnaire could be used to obtain owner-perceived, weighted quality-of-life assessments for dogs with spinal cord injuries. Obtaining owner-perceived quality-of-life assessments for individual dogs should allow veterinarians to better address quality-of-life concerns and expectations of owners.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate a questionnaire for obtaining owner-perceived, weighted quality-oflife assessments for dogs with spinal cord injuries.

Design—Evaluation study.

Animals—100 dogs with spinal cord injuries and 48 healthy control dogs.

Procedures—The questionnaire was adapted from a questionnaire (the schedule for the evaluation of individual quality of life–direct weighting) used for human patients. Specifically, owners were asked to identify 5 areas or activities they believed had the most influence on their dogs' quality of life, assess their dogs' current status in each of those areas, and provide a weighting for the importance of each area. Results were used to construct a weighted quality-of-life score ranging from 0 to 100 for each dog. Owners were also asked to provide a quality-of-life score with a visual analog scale (VAS).

Results—A good correlation was found between weighted and VAS quality-of-life scores. Dogs with spinal cord injuries had weighted quality-of-life scores that were significantly lower than scores for control dogs. Quality-of-life areas and activities provided by owners of dogs with spinal cord injuries were similar to areas and activities provided by owners of healthy control dogs and could mostly be encompassed by 5 broader domains: mobility, play or mental stimulation, health, companionship, and other.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that the questionnaire could be used to obtain owner-perceived, weighted quality-of-life assessments for dogs with spinal cord injuries. Obtaining owner-perceived quality-of-life assessments for individual dogs should allow veterinarians to better address quality-of-life concerns and expectations of owners.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Alisha Onkst for assistance administering surveys, enrolling dogs, and collecting data and Dana Osterstock and Drs. Jennifer Au, Bonnie Beaver, and Mary A. Crist for enrolling dogs.

Address correspondence to Dr. Jonathan Levine.