Effectiveness of various language strategies for helping pet owners appreciate the value of preventive care

Charlotte H. McKay AVMA, Schaumburg, IL

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Nicole Nichols Maslansky + Partners, New York, NY

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Sandra L. Lefebvre AVMA, Schaumburg, IL

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To identify more effective language strategies for helping pet owners appreciate the value and importance of preventive veterinary care and encouraging more regular visits.

SAMPLE

15 pet owners representing a mix of demographic and other characteristics.

PROCEDURES

This qualitative study began with a communication and research audit, followed by interviews with subject matter experts, development of language stimuli (messages about the importance of veterinary care and encouraging pet owners to prioritize wellness visits), three 2-hour online focus group sessions with study participants (4 to 6/group) to test and discuss the language stimuli, and 1-hour one-on-one interviews with 5 of these participants to measure emotional responses to optimized stimuli.

RESULTS

Language stimuli testing showed that simply telling pet owners how veterinary care is valuable does not work. What did work was focusing on the pet owner’s relationship with their pet, tying preventive care into the animal’s overall health and happiness, and emphasizing a veterinarian’s experience versus their qualifications. Personalized recommendations were perceived as most valuable to owners. Addressing cost head-on, demonstrating understanding, empowering pet owners to ask questions, and providing payment options were identified as strategies that could help owners see they can afford routine care now.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results suggested that by focusing on experience, relationships, and personalized care, veterinarians can address pet owners’ concerns while promoting the importance of preventive care, including regular checkups. Additional research is needed to evaluate the impact of this language on pet owner perceptions, behaviors, and outcomes in clinical settings.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To identify more effective language strategies for helping pet owners appreciate the value and importance of preventive veterinary care and encouraging more regular visits.

SAMPLE

15 pet owners representing a mix of demographic and other characteristics.

PROCEDURES

This qualitative study began with a communication and research audit, followed by interviews with subject matter experts, development of language stimuli (messages about the importance of veterinary care and encouraging pet owners to prioritize wellness visits), three 2-hour online focus group sessions with study participants (4 to 6/group) to test and discuss the language stimuli, and 1-hour one-on-one interviews with 5 of these participants to measure emotional responses to optimized stimuli.

RESULTS

Language stimuli testing showed that simply telling pet owners how veterinary care is valuable does not work. What did work was focusing on the pet owner’s relationship with their pet, tying preventive care into the animal’s overall health and happiness, and emphasizing a veterinarian’s experience versus their qualifications. Personalized recommendations were perceived as most valuable to owners. Addressing cost head-on, demonstrating understanding, empowering pet owners to ask questions, and providing payment options were identified as strategies that could help owners see they can afford routine care now.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results suggested that by focusing on experience, relationships, and personalized care, veterinarians can address pet owners’ concerns while promoting the importance of preventive care, including regular checkups. Additional research is needed to evaluate the impact of this language on pet owner perceptions, behaviors, and outcomes in clinical settings.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix S1 (PDF 153 KB)

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Lefebvre (slefebvre@avma.org)
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