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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To assess the impact of a novel communication and consultation skills model (WISE COACH [WC]) on dog owner perceptions of veterinarians and projected spending on veterinary care.

SAMPLE

1,200 US dog owners who had visited a veterinarian within the prior 18 months.

PROCEDURES

Video recordings of 2 staged client consultations were made, with the veterinarian following the WC recommendations in one video and not following them in the other (control). Participants were randomly assigned to view one of the videos and completed an online survey to assess their perceptions and projected spending. Qualitative responses were coded to identify themes.

RESULTS

The veterinarian was rated significantly higher in the WC video than in the control video for the characteristics first impression, skilled and knowledgeable, cares about me, cares about my pet, and communicates clearly, and was rated significantly lower for the characteristic rushed or abrupt. Participants who viewed the WC video were significantly more likely to follow the veterinarian’s recommendations, return to see the veterinarian, and recommend the veterinarian. They were also approximately 1.4 times as likely to approve the full recommended treatment plan, and their projected total spending was approximately 15% higher than projected spending for participants who viewed the control video.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results showed improved client perceptions, client retention, quality of patient care, and financial metrics when the veterinarian followed the WC recommendations. Further study is needed to determine whether this model may also improve veterinarian well-being by improving client relationships and decreasing resistance to recommendations.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association