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Financial fragility and demographic factors predict pet owners’ perceptions of access to veterinary care in the United States

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  • 1 Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, Medford, MA
  • | 2 Center for Animals and Public Policy and the Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Access to veterinary care is critical for pet, human, and community health. However, inequities in how easily pet owners can access veterinary care may exacerbate health disparities in vulnerable populations. This research analyzed pet owners’ perceptions of access to veterinary care in order to understand how demographic characteristics and financial fragility predict perceived access to veterinary services.

SAMPLE

This study utilized survey data (n = 750) from a larger cross-sectional survey of adults in the US conducted by the Tufts University Equity Research Group.

PROCEDURES

Survey data were collected in May and June of 2020 from a nationally representative group of pet owners via an online panel. Descriptive statistics, ANOVAs, and a sequential linear regression model were conducted in order to predict perceived access to veterinary care.

RESULTS

Results of a sequential linear regression model indicated that race or ethnicity, education, and financial fragility significantly predicted perceived ease of access to veterinary care (F[7,617] = 19.80; P < .001). Additionally, financial fragility was prevalent among most pet owners of almost all income brackets, highlighting the need for more research into the cost burden of veterinary care.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Future studies should focus on diverse sampling strategies that capture the experiences of minority pet owners in order to further understand issues of access in veterinary medicine.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Access to veterinary care is critical for pet, human, and community health. However, inequities in how easily pet owners can access veterinary care may exacerbate health disparities in vulnerable populations. This research analyzed pet owners’ perceptions of access to veterinary care in order to understand how demographic characteristics and financial fragility predict perceived access to veterinary services.

SAMPLE

This study utilized survey data (n = 750) from a larger cross-sectional survey of adults in the US conducted by the Tufts University Equity Research Group.

PROCEDURES

Survey data were collected in May and June of 2020 from a nationally representative group of pet owners via an online panel. Descriptive statistics, ANOVAs, and a sequential linear regression model were conducted in order to predict perceived access to veterinary care.

RESULTS

Results of a sequential linear regression model indicated that race or ethnicity, education, and financial fragility significantly predicted perceived ease of access to veterinary care (F[7,617] = 19.80; P < .001). Additionally, financial fragility was prevalent among most pet owners of almost all income brackets, highlighting the need for more research into the cost burden of veterinary care.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Future studies should focus on diverse sampling strategies that capture the experiences of minority pet owners in order to further understand issues of access in veterinary medicine.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Erin King (erin.king@tufts.edu)