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Outcomes assessment of on-site communication skills education in a companion animal practice

Jane R. Shaw DVM, PhD1, Gwyn E. Barley PhD2, Kirsti Broadfoot PhD3, Ashley E. Hill DVM, MPVM, PhD4, and Debra L. Roter DrPH5
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80524.
  • | 2 Department of Family Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO 80045.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80524.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80524.
  • | 5 Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate veterinarian-client communication and veterinarian and client satisfaction with veterinary visits before and after veterinarians underwent a 6-month communication skills training program in a practice setting.

DESIGN Case-based pretest-posttest intervention study.

SAMPLE 1 purposely selected companion-animal practice.

PROCEDURES The practice team (3 veterinarians, 5 veterinary technicians, 1 receptionist, and 1 office manager) participated in a 6-month educational program (intervention) that included interactive communication modules, individual coaching, and a communication laboratory. For each of the veterinarians, 6 appointments were video recorded and 30 additional clients completed a visit satisfaction survey both before and after the intervention. The Roter interaction analysis system was used to analyze the video-recorded appointments.

RESULTS After the intervention, appointments were 5.4 minutes longer and veterinarians asked 60% fewer closed-ended lifestyle-social questions, provided 1.4 times as much biomedically related client education, and used 1.5 and 1.25 times as much facilitative and emotional rapport communication, respectively, compared with before the intervention. Clients provided veterinarians with 1.3 times as much biomedically related information and engaged in twice as much social conversation. After the intervention, veterinarians perceived their clients as complaining less and being more personable and trusting, and clients felt more involved in the appointment and reported that the veterinarian expressed greater interest in their opinion.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that the intervention resulted in veterinarians who spent more time educating and building rapport with their clients and facilitating client input in an unhurried environment, which enhanced overall veterinarian visit satisfaction and various aspects of client visit satisfaction.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate veterinarian-client communication and veterinarian and client satisfaction with veterinary visits before and after veterinarians underwent a 6-month communication skills training program in a practice setting.

DESIGN Case-based pretest-posttest intervention study.

SAMPLE 1 purposely selected companion-animal practice.

PROCEDURES The practice team (3 veterinarians, 5 veterinary technicians, 1 receptionist, and 1 office manager) participated in a 6-month educational program (intervention) that included interactive communication modules, individual coaching, and a communication laboratory. For each of the veterinarians, 6 appointments were video recorded and 30 additional clients completed a visit satisfaction survey both before and after the intervention. The Roter interaction analysis system was used to analyze the video-recorded appointments.

RESULTS After the intervention, appointments were 5.4 minutes longer and veterinarians asked 60% fewer closed-ended lifestyle-social questions, provided 1.4 times as much biomedically related client education, and used 1.5 and 1.25 times as much facilitative and emotional rapport communication, respectively, compared with before the intervention. Clients provided veterinarians with 1.3 times as much biomedically related information and engaged in twice as much social conversation. After the intervention, veterinarians perceived their clients as complaining less and being more personable and trusting, and clients felt more involved in the appointment and reported that the veterinarian expressed greater interest in their opinion.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that the intervention resulted in veterinarians who spent more time educating and building rapport with their clients and facilitating client input in an unhurried environment, which enhanced overall veterinarian visit satisfaction and various aspects of client visit satisfaction.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Barley's present address is The Colorado Trust, 1600 Sherman St, Denver, CO 80203. Dr. Broadfoot's present address is Department of Family Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO 80045. Dr. Hill's present address is California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

Address correspondence to Dr. Shaw (jane.shaw@colostate.edu).