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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To assess the impact of a communication program on a cohort of veterinary students’ knowledge and performance of communication skills.

SAMPLE

Class cohort of veterinary students at Colorado State University.

PROCEDURES

Year 3 students’ knowledge of communication skills was evaluated using quizzes, administered before and after the fall 2016 and spring 2017 Clinical Communication Skills-I and II junior practicum. In year 4, student performance of 22 Calgary-Cambridge Guide communication skills was assessed by coding video-recordings of student-client interactions collected during their second and fourth weeks of the Community Practice rotation in the summer and fall of 2017 and spring of 2018. The impact of training, association with demographic factors, and correlation between knowledge and performance of communication skills were investigated.

RESULTS

In year 3, 136 students completed both fall and spring quizzes; in year 4, 65 week-2 and 29 week-4 appointments were video-recorded during Community Practice rotation. Students’ knowledge assessed via quizzes containing skill spotting and skill demonstrating questions increased significantly after the fall and spring junior practicums; however, knowledge of communication skills was not associated with performance during year 4 Community Practice rotations. Communication skills most frequently demonstrated by students during the fourth year Community Practice rotation were open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, empathy toward the client and patient, providing “chunks” of information, and signposting. Students received high quality scores for non-verbal behaviors and logical clinical interview structure.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results suggest that experiential learning techniques, including a flipped classroom approach, role-play, and communication laboratories contributed to increased student knowledge of communication skills.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To compare pet owners’ and veterinarians’ perceptions of veterinarian-client conversations concerning pet weight and identify challenges related to communication about weight.

SAMPLE POPULATION

Veterinarians (n = 24) and pet owners (27) in southern Ontario, Canada.

PROCEDURES

3 veterinarian and 5 pet owner focus groups were conducted with a semistructured interview format. Thematic analysis of verbatim transcripts was conducted.

RESULTS

Pet owners valued weight as an important health indicator for pets yet did not expect to discuss weight extensively at every appointment. Owners expected veterinarians to provide options and tailor recommendations when discussing weight management. Owners appeared more concerned with underweight animals, whereas veterinarians focused on obese animals. Veterinarians identified communication challenges, including the perception that owners are uninterested in discussing weight and conversations can become adversarial. Veterinarians reported various benefits and challenges of using humor to address pet weight and emphasized that weight-related conversations often depend on the existing veterinarian-client relationship.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Some perceptions of pet owner expectations expressed by veterinarians in this study align with owner preferences, yet several opportunities exist for changes to veterinarians’ approaches to weight-related communication with clients.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Pet weight may be difficult for veterinary professionals to address with clients, particularly when pets are overweight or obese. The objective of this study was to characterize the communication processes and content of weight-related conversations occurring between veterinary professionals and clients.

SAMPLE

Audio-video recordings of 917 veterinarian-client-patient interactions involving a random sample of 60 veterinarians and a convenience sample of clients.

PROCEDURES

Companion animal veterinarians in southern Ontario, Canada, were randomly recruited, and interactions with their clients were audio-video recorded. Interactions were reviewed for mentions of weight, then further analyzed by means of a researcher-generated coding framework to provide a comprehensive assessment of communication specific to weight-related interactions.

RESULTS

463 of 917 (50.5%) veterinary-client-patient interactions contained an exchange involving the mention of a single patient’s (dog or cat) weight and were included in final analysis. Of the 463 interactions, 150 (32.4%) involved a discussion of obesity for a single patient. Of these, 43.3% (65/150) included a weight management recommendation from the veterinary team, and 28% (42/150) provided clients with a reason for pursuing weight management.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Findings illustrate opportunities to optimize obesity communication to improve the health and wellbeing of veterinary patients.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association