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Survey of referring veterinarians’ perceptions of and reasons for referring patients to rehabilitation facilities

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  • 1 Department of Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation and Fitness, The Animal Medical Center, 510 E 62nd St, New York, NY 10065.
  • | 2 Department of Caspary Research Institute, The Animal Medical Center, 510 E 62nd St, New York, NY 10065.
  • | 3 Canine Rehabilitation Institute, 2701 Twin Oaks Way, Wellington, FL 33414.
  • | 4 School of Public Health, City University of New York, New York, NY 10035.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To identify patterns of referral to US small animal rehabilitation facilities, document referring veterinarians’ perceptions of rehabilitation services, and examine factors that encouraged and impeded referral of veterinary patients to rehabilitation facilities.

DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.

SAMPLE 461 completed surveys.

PROCEDURES Referral lists were obtained from 9 US rehabilitation facilities, and surveys were emailed or mailed to 2, 738 veterinarians whose names appeared on those lists. Data obtained from respondents were used to generate descriptive statistics and perform χ2 tests to determine patterns for referral of patients to rehabilitation facilities.

RESULTS 461 surveys were completed and returned, resulting in a response rate of 16.8%. The margin of error was < 5% for all responses. Most respondents (324/461 [70.3%]) had referred patients for postoperative rehabilitation therapy. Respondents ranked neurologic disorder as the condition they would most likely consider for referral for future rehabilitation therapy. The most frequently cited reason for not referring a patient for rehabilitation therapy was perceived cost (251/461 [54.4%]) followed by distance to a rehabilitation facility (135/461 [29.3%]). Specialists were more likely than general practitioners to refer patients for rehabilitation therapy. The majority (403/461 [87.4%]) of respondents felt that continuing education in the field of veterinary rehabilitation was lacking.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated a need for continuing education in small animal rehabilitation for veterinarians. Improved knowledge of rehabilitation therapy will enable veterinarians to better understand and more specifically communicate indications and benefits for pets receiving this treatment modality.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To identify patterns of referral to US small animal rehabilitation facilities, document referring veterinarians’ perceptions of rehabilitation services, and examine factors that encouraged and impeded referral of veterinary patients to rehabilitation facilities.

DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.

SAMPLE 461 completed surveys.

PROCEDURES Referral lists were obtained from 9 US rehabilitation facilities, and surveys were emailed or mailed to 2, 738 veterinarians whose names appeared on those lists. Data obtained from respondents were used to generate descriptive statistics and perform χ2 tests to determine patterns for referral of patients to rehabilitation facilities.

RESULTS 461 surveys were completed and returned, resulting in a response rate of 16.8%. The margin of error was < 5% for all responses. Most respondents (324/461 [70.3%]) had referred patients for postoperative rehabilitation therapy. Respondents ranked neurologic disorder as the condition they would most likely consider for referral for future rehabilitation therapy. The most frequently cited reason for not referring a patient for rehabilitation therapy was perceived cost (251/461 [54.4%]) followed by distance to a rehabilitation facility (135/461 [29.3%]). Specialists were more likely than general practitioners to refer patients for rehabilitation therapy. The majority (403/461 [87.4%]) of respondents felt that continuing education in the field of veterinary rehabilitation was lacking.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated a need for continuing education in small animal rehabilitation for veterinarians. Improved knowledge of rehabilitation therapy will enable veterinarians to better understand and more specifically communicate indications and benefits for pets receiving this treatment modality.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix S1 (PDF 81 kb)

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Alvarez (Leilani.Alvarez@amcny.org).