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Abstract

Objective—To examine veterinarian solicitation of client concerns in companion animal practice.

Design—Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Sample—20 veterinarians in companion animal practice in Eastern Ontario and 334 clients and their pets.

Procedures—Beginning segments of 334 appointments were coded for a veterinarian solicitation (open- or closed-ended question) used to elicit client concerns. Appointments including a solicitation were analyzed for completion of the client's response and its length. The association between veterinarian solicitations at the beginning and concerns arising at the closure of the interview was examined.

Results—123 (37%) of the coded appointments contained a veterinarian solicitation, of which 93 (76%) were open-ended and 30 (24%) were closed-ended solicitations. Client responses to a solicitation were interrupted in 68 of 123 (55%) appointments. Main reasons for incomplete client responses were veterinarian interruptions in the form of closed-ended questioning (39/68) and noninterrogative statements (18/68). Median length of time clients spoke before interruption was 11 seconds (range, 1 to 139 seconds; mean, 15.3 seconds; SD, 12.1 seconds). The odds of a new concern arising during the closing segment of an appointment were 4 times as great when the appointment did not contain a veterinarian solicitation at the beginning of the interview.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Not soliciting client concerns at the beginning of an interview increased the odds of a concern arising during the final moments of the interaction. This required the veterinarian to choose among extending the appointment to address the concern, ignoring the concern at a possible cost to client satisfaction, or deferring the concern to another visit.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To identify actions taken by owners to socialize puppies < 20 weeks of age, to determine factors affecting attendance of structured puppy classes, and to examine associations between class attendance and owner response to various undesirable puppy behaviors.

DESIGN Cross-sectional study.

SAMPLE 296 puppy owners (each with 1 puppy).

PROCEDURES Participants completed a survey at enrollment (to gather data regarding owner demographics and puppy characteristics) and again when puppies were 20 weeks of age (to gather information on socialization practices and owner responses to misbehavior and signs of fear in their puppy). Responses were compared between owners that did (attendees) and did not (nonattendees) report attending puppy classes.

RESULTS 145 (49.0%) respondents reported attending puppy classes. Class structure differed greatly among respondents. Attendees exposed their puppies to a greater number of people and other dogs than nonattendees as well as to various noises and situations. Puppies of attendees were less likely than puppies of nonattendees to have signs of fear in response to noises such as thunder and vacuum cleaners as well as to crates. Fewer attendees reported use of punishment-based discipline techniques than did nonattendees. Almost one-third of puppies received only minimal exposure to people and dogs outside the home during the survey period.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE A notable number of puppies < 20 weeks of age in this study received few early socialization opportunities, which could lead to behavior problems and subsequent relinquishment. Opportunities exist for veterinarians to serve an important role in educating puppy owners about the importance of early puppy socialization and positive reward training.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To compare veterinarians' and pet owners' perceptions of client expectations with respect to the monetary aspects of veterinary care and identify challenges encountered by veterinarians in dealing with pet owners' expectations.

Design—Qualitative study based on focus group interviews.

Participants—6 pet owner focus groups (32 owners) and 4 veterinarian focus groups (24 companion animal veterinarians).

Procedures—Independent focus group sessions were conducted with standardized open-ended questions and follow-up probes. Content analysis was performed on the focus group discussions.

Results—Pet owners expected the care of their animal to take precedence over monetary aspects. They also expected veterinarians to initiate discussions of costs upfront but indicated that such discussions were uncommon. Veterinarians and pet owners differed in the way they related to discussions of veterinary costs. Veterinarians focused on tangibles, such as time and services. Pet owners focused on outcome as it related to their pet's health and well-being. Veterinarians reported that they sometimes felt undervalued for their efforts. A suspicion regarding the motivation behind veterinarians' recommendations surfaced among some participating pet owners.

Conclusions—Results suggested that the monetary aspects of veterinary care pose barriers and challenges for veterinarians and pet owners. By exploring clients' expectations, improving communication, educating clients, and making discussions of cost more common, veterinarians may be able to alleviate some of the monetary challenges involved in veterinarian-client-patient interactions.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence and nature of cost discussions between veterinarians and pet owners during clinical appointments in companion animal practice.

Design—Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Sample Population—20 veterinarians in companion animal practice in eastern Ontario and 350 clients and their pets.

Procedures—200 veterinarian-client-patient interactions were randomly selected from all videotaped interactions and analyzed with the Roter interaction analysis system. Additional proficiency codes and blocking functions were developed to capture the prevalence, nature, and context of cost discussions.

Results—58 of the 200 (29%) appointments that were analyzed included a discussion of cost. During 38 of these 58 (66%) appointments, the discussion involved costs associated with the veterinarian's time or with services provided by the veterinarian. Overall, reference to a written estimate was made during only 28 of the 200 (14%) appointments. Cost discussions were most common during appointments in which a decision related to diagnostic testing or dentistry was made. Appointments were significantly longer when a cost discussion was included than when it was not.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that discussions related to cost were relatively uncommon during clinical appointments in companion animal practice and that written estimates were infrequently used to aid these discussions. When discussions of cost did occur, veterinarians appeared to focus on explaining costs in terms of the veterinarian's time or services provided by the veterinarian, rather than on the medical information that could be obtained or the benefits to the future health or function of the pet.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To compare veterinarians' and pet owners' perceptions of client expectations with respect to veterinarian-client communication and to identify related barriers and challenges to communication.

Design—Qualitative study based on focus group interviews.

Participants—6 pet owner focus groups (32 owners) and 4 veterinarian focus groups (24 companion animal veterinarians).

Procedures—Independent focus group sessions were conducted with standardized open-ended questions and follow-up probes. Content analysis was performed on transcripts of the focus group discussions.

Results—Five themes related to veterinarian-client communication were identified: educating clients (ie, explaining important information, providing information up front, and providing information in various forms), providing choices (ie, providing pet owners with a range of options, being respectful of owners' decisions, and working in partnership with owners), using 2-way communication (ie, using language clients understand, listening to what clients have to say, and asking the right questions), breakdowns in communication that affected the client's experience (ie, owners feeling misinformed, that they had not been given all options, and that their concerns had not been heard), and challenges veterinarians encountered when communicating with clients (ie, monetary concerns, client misinformation, involvement of > 1 client, and time limitations).

Conclusions—Results suggested that several factors are involved in providing effective veterinarian-client communication and that breakdowns in communication can have an adverse effect on the veterinarian-client relationship.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine variables of veterinary team effectiveness and personal empathy for associations with professional quality of life (ie, compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress) and job satisfaction in companion animal practice personnel.

DESIGN

Cross-sectional survey.

SAMPLE

Data from 232 surveys completed by personnel from 10 companion animal veterinary practices in 2 regions of the United States between April 7 and December 20, 2016.

PROCEDURES

Online surveys were used to collect practice-level data (eg, practice type, setting, and staffing) and individual-level data (eg, demographics, job position, and years in the position and profession). Instruments used in developing the surveys included the Team Effectiveness Instrument, Davis Interpersonal Reactivity Index, Professional Quality of Life Scale, and a measure for job satisfaction. Data were evaluated for associations with professional quality of life and job satisfaction.

RESULTS

Individual engagement was positively associated with job satisfaction, negatively associated with secondary traumatic stress, and moderated by levels of personal distress for compassion satisfaction and burnout. Toxic team environment was positively associated with burnout and negatively associated with job satisfaction. Empathetic concern and personal distress were both positively associated with secondary traumatic stress. Empathetic concern was moderated by team engagement for compassion satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINCAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated that variables influencing professional quality of life and job satisfaction were multimodal and included aspects of team effectiveness and empathy; therefore, workplace strategies that enhance individual and team engagement and mitigate toxic team environments could potentially improve professional quality of life and job satisfaction in veterinary personnel.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To establish the types of initial questions used by veterinarians in companion animal practice to solicit nutritional history information from owners of dogs and cats, the dietary information elicited, and the relationship between initial question-answer sequences and later nutrition-related questions.

Design—Cross-sectional qualitative conversation analytic study.

Sample—98 appointments featuring 15 veterinarians drawn from an observational study of 284 videotaped veterinarian-client-patient visits involving 17 veterinarians in companion animal practices in eastern Ontario, Canada.

Procedures—Veterinarian and client talk related to patient nutrition was identified and transcribed; conversation analysis was then used to examine the orderly design and details of talk within and across turns. Nutrition-related discussions occurred in 172 visits, 98 of which contained veterinarian-initiated question-answer sequences about patient nutritional history (99 sequences in total, with 2 sequences in 1 visit).

Results—The predominant question format used by veterinarians was a what-prefaced question asking about the current content of the patient's diet (75/99). Overall, 63 appointments involved a single what-prefaced question in the first turn of nutrition talk by the veterinarian (64 sequences in total). Dietary information in client responses was typically restricted to the brand name, the subtype (eg, kitten), or the brand name and subtype of a single food item. When additional diet questions were subsequently posed, they typically sought only clarification about the food item previously mentioned by the client.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that question design can influence the accuracy and completeness of a nutritional history. These findings can potentially provide important evidence-based guidance for communication training in nutritional assessment techniques.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To explore the nature and content of information publicly posted to Facebook by early-career veterinarians.

Design—Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Sample—352 early-career veterinarians.

Procedures—Publicly accessible Facebook profiles were searched online from March to May 2010 for profiles of early-career veterinarians (graduates from 2004 through 2009) registered with the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, Canada. The content of veterinarians’ Facebook profiles was evaluated and then categorized as low, medium, or high exposure in terms of the information a veterinarian had publicly posted to Facebook. Through the use of content analysis, high-exposure profiles were further analyzed for publicly posted information that may have posed risks to an individual's or the profession's public image.

Results—Facebook profiles for 352 of 494 (71%) registered early-career veterinarians were located. One-quarter (25%) of profiles were categorized as low exposure (ie, high privacy), over half (54%) as medium exposure (ie, medium privacy), and 21% as high exposure (ie, low privacy). Content analysis of the high-exposure profiles identified publicly posted information that may pose risks to an individual's or the profession's reputation, including breaches of client confidentiality, evidence of substance abuse, and demeaning comments toward others.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Almost a quarter of veterinarians’ Facebook profiles viewed in the present study contained publicly available content of a questionable nature that could pose a risk to the reputation of the individual, his or her practice, or the veterinary profession. The increased use of Facebook and all types of social media points to the need for raised awareness by veterinarians of all ages of how to manage one's personal and professional identities online to minimize reputation risks for individuals and their practices and to protect the reputation and integrity of the veterinary profession.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To explore the relationship between veterinarian-client-patient interactions and client adherence to dental and surgery recommendations and to test the a priori hypotheses that appointment-specific client satisfaction and relationship-centered care are positively associated with client adherence.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample—A subsample of 19 companion-animal veterinarians and 83 clients from a larger observational study consisting of 20 randomly recruited veterinarians and a convenience sample of 350 clients from eastern Ontario.

Procedures—Videotaped veterinarian-client-patient interactions containing a dentistry recommendation, surgery recommendation, or both were selected for inclusion from the larger sample of interactions coded with the Roter interaction analysis system. Client adherence was measured by evaluating each patient's medical record approximately 6 months after the videotaped interaction. The clarity of the recommendation, appointment-specific client-satisfaction score, and relationship-centered care score were compared between adhering and nonadhering clients.

Results—Among the 83 veterinarian-client-patient interactions, 25 (30%) clients adhered to a dentistry recommendation, surgery recommendation, or both. The odds for adherence were 7 times as great for clients who received a clear recommendation, compared with clients who received an ambiguous recommendation from their veterinarian. Moreover, adhering clients were significantly more satisfied as measured after the interview. Interactions resulting in client adherence also had higher scores for relationship-centered care than did interactions leading to nonadherence.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Veterinarian use of a relationship-centered care approach, characterized as a collaborative partnership between a veterinarian and a client with provision of clear recommendations and effective communication of the rationale for the recommendations, has positive implications for client adherence.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the content aspects of the information expectations of clients accessing oncology care services at a tertiary referral center for dogs with life-limiting cancer.

Design—Qualitative analysis of data acquired during in-person single and dyadic interviews.

Sample—43 dog owners participating in 30 interviews.

Procedures—Independent in-person interviews were conducted with standardized open- and closed-ended questions from April to October 2009. Thematic analysis was performed on transcripts of the interview discussions.

Results—For the clients, the central qualification was that the information given had to be the truth. Information was expected about all aspects of their dog's cancer and its treatment, varying in relation to clients’ basic understanding of cancer, their previous experience with cancer, and their information preferences. Provision of information generated the trust and confidence necessary to engage in treatment, the ability to make informed decisions, and the ability to be prepared for the future. Provision of information also engendered a sense of control and capability and fostered hope.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—When dealing with owners of dogs with life-limiting cancer, results indicated that in addition to abiding by the principle of truth-telling, it is important for health-care service providers to ascertain clients’ understanding of and experiences with cancer as well as their information preferences and thereby adopt a tailored approach to information giving. Provision of information enabled client action and patient intervention but also enhanced clients’ psychosocial well-being. Veterinary healthcare service providers can purposely provide information to build and sustain clients’ ability to successfully cope with their pet's condition.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association