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To adapt the 3 scales of the Autonomy Preference Index to veterinary medicine and validate the 3 new scales to measure pet owner preferences for autonomy and information when making medical decisions for their pets.


10 small-animal veterinarians and 10 small-animal clients at a veterinary school–based community practice (pilot study) and 311 small-animal clients of the practice (validation study), of which 47 participated in a follow-up survey.


Wording of items in the Autonomy Preference Index was adapted, and instrument wording was finalized on the basis of feedback obtained in the pilot study to create 3 scales: the Veterinary General Decision-Making Preferences Scale (VGDMPS), Veterinary Clinical Decision-Making Preferences Scale (VCDMPS), and Veterinary Information-Seeking Preferences Scale (VISPS). The 3 scales were then validated by means of administering them to small-animal clients in a clinical setting.


The 3 scales had acceptable reliability and validity, but clients expressed concern over item wording in the VGDMPS during the pilot study. Overall, results showed that clients had a very high preference for information (mean ± SD VISPS score, 4.78 ± 0.36 on a scale from 1 to 5). Preferences for autonomy varied, but mean values reflected a low-to-moderate desire for autonomy in clinical decision-making (mean ± SD VCDMPS score, 2.04 ± 0.62 on a scale from 1 to 5).


The VCDMPS was a reliable and valid instrument for measuring client preferences for autonomy in clinical decision-making. Veterinarians could potentially use this instrument to better understand pet owner preferences and tailor their communication approach accordingly.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association