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.
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.