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Veterinary professionals’ weight-related communication when discussing an overweight or obese pet with a client

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  • 1 Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Pet weight may be difficult for veterinary professionals to address with clients, particularly when pets are overweight or obese. The objective of this study was to characterize the communication processes and content of weight-related conversations occurring between veterinary professionals and clients.

SAMPLE

Audio-video recordings of 917 veterinarian-client-patient interactions involving a random sample of 60 veterinarians and a convenience sample of clients.

PROCEDURES

Companion animal veterinarians in southern Ontario, Canada, were randomly recruited, and interactions with their clients were audio-video recorded. Interactions were reviewed for mentions of weight, then further analyzed by means of a researcher-generated coding framework to provide a comprehensive assessment of communication specific to weight-related interactions.

RESULTS

463 of 917 (50.5%) veterinary-client-patient interactions contained an exchange involving the mention of a single patient’s (dog or cat) weight and were included in final analysis. Of the 463 interactions, 150 (32.4%) involved a discussion of obesity for a single patient. Of these, 43.3% (65/150) included a weight management recommendation from the veterinary team, and 28% (42/150) provided clients with a reason for pursuing weight management.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Findings illustrate opportunities to optimize obesity communication to improve the health and wellbeing of veterinary patients.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Pet weight may be difficult for veterinary professionals to address with clients, particularly when pets are overweight or obese. The objective of this study was to characterize the communication processes and content of weight-related conversations occurring between veterinary professionals and clients.

SAMPLE

Audio-video recordings of 917 veterinarian-client-patient interactions involving a random sample of 60 veterinarians and a convenience sample of clients.

PROCEDURES

Companion animal veterinarians in southern Ontario, Canada, were randomly recruited, and interactions with their clients were audio-video recorded. Interactions were reviewed for mentions of weight, then further analyzed by means of a researcher-generated coding framework to provide a comprehensive assessment of communication specific to weight-related interactions.

RESULTS

463 of 917 (50.5%) veterinary-client-patient interactions contained an exchange involving the mention of a single patient’s (dog or cat) weight and were included in final analysis. Of the 463 interactions, 150 (32.4%) involved a discussion of obesity for a single patient. Of these, 43.3% (65/150) included a weight management recommendation from the veterinary team, and 28% (42/150) provided clients with a reason for pursuing weight management.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Findings illustrate opportunities to optimize obesity communication to improve the health and wellbeing of veterinary patients.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Sutherland (katja@uoguelph.ca)