To describe and compare veterinary professionals’ use of shared decision-making during companion animal appointments.
Multi-practice cross-sectional study.
A purposive sample of 4 companion animal veterinary clinics in a group practice in Texas.
A convenience sample of veterinary appointments were recorded January to March 2018 and audio-recordings were analyzed using the Observer OPTION5 instrument to assess shared decision-making. Each decision was categorized by veterinary professional involvement.
A total of 76/85 (89%) appointments included at least 1 decision between the client and veterinary professional(s), with a total of 129 shared decisions. Decisions that involved both a veterinary technician and veterinarian scored significantly higher for elements of shared decision-making (OPTION5 = 29.5 ± 8.4; n = 46), than veterinarian-only decisions (OPTION5 = 25.4 ± 11.50; P = .040; n = 63), and veterinary technician-only decisions (OPTION5 = 22.5 ± 7.15; P = .001; n = 20). Specific elements of shared decision-making that differed significantly based on veterinary professional involvement included educating the client about options (OPTION5 Item 3; P = .0041) and integrating the client’s preference (OPTION5 Item 5; P = .0010).
Findings suggest that clients are more involved in decision making related to their pet’s health care when both the veterinary technician and veterinarian communicate with the client. Veterinary technicians’ communication significantly enhanced client engagement in decision-making when working collaboratively with the veterinarian.