Communication between veterinarians and pet owners is absolutely critical when it comes to patient care. A veterinarian’s approach to communicating with their client has been found to impact a number of important outcomes of veterinary care including client adherence , client satisfaction , veterinarian satisfaction , and client recall of information , as well as appointment efficiency and accuracy .
Research suggests that the approach to communication used by veterinarians can impact pet owners’ involvement in the decision-making process and their ultimate satisfaction. There are different approaches to the decision-making process that may affect how information is provided to pet owners and how decisions are made. The objective of this study was to determine pet owners’ expectations with respect to information exchange and decision-making during veterinarian-pet owner-patient interactions. The study also compared veterinarians’ perceptions of the expectations and the challenges they face in meeting pet owners.
Five pet owner focus groups (27 pet owners in total) and three veterinarian focus groups (24 veterinarians in total) were conducted with open-ended questions and follow-ups. The study analyzed the data to identify trends and patterns. Participants described using “pictures from textbooks”, “the internet”, “x-rays”, or visually “demonstrating on the animal”, to explain a diagnosis as especially helpful when comprehending new information.
Handouts and following up with clients were two methods that veterinarians used to ensure they were on the same page as their clients after appointments, though many veterinarian participants described difficulty finding time to follow-up with clients after providing information.
Pet owners in all focus groups mentioned searching the internet in some capacity, whether they checked “Google”, “Wikipedia”, “Blogs” or “Chat Rooms”, yet many acknowledged that these sources are not as reputable as sources of information provided by their veterinarian. A pet owner participant stated the following after their pet was diagnosed by the veterinarian: “I go home and I Google right away.” It is clear that pet owners want to learn more and understand as much as they can about the diagnosis. Thus, it is imperative that veterinarians are in constant communication even after the appointment.
Time constraints were the primary concern raised by the veterinarians. Feeling rushed but trying not to appear rushed with clients was important to veterinarians as they recognized it affected the client experience. Handouts and following up with clients were two methods that veterinarians used to ensure they were on the same page as their clients after appointments.
- Kanji N, Coe JB, Adams CL, Shaw JR. Effect of veterinarian-client-patient interactions on client adherence to dentistry and surgery recommendations in companion-animal practice. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2012;240: 427–436. pmid:22309015
- 2.Coe JB, Adams CL, Eva K, Desmarais S, Bonnett BN. Development and validation of an instrument for measuring appointment-specific client satisfaction in companion-animal practice. Prev Vet Med. 2010;93: 201–210. pmid:19926150
- 3.Shaw JR, Adams CL, Bonnett BN, Larson S, Roter DL. Veterinarian satisfaction with companion animal visits. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2012;240: 832–841. pmid:22443436
- 4.Latham CE, Morris A. Effects of formal training in communication skills on the ability of veterinary students to communicate with clients. Vet Rec. 2007;160: 181–186. pmid:17293576
- 5.Dysart LM, Coe JB, Adams CL. Analysis of solicitation of client concerns in companion animal practice. 2011;228: 1609–1615.