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study on communication between veterinarians and animal owners

Fokus Tiergesundheit – Study of veterinarian-client-communication

Besides professional expertise good communication between client and veterinarian is one of the most important factors for building up a confident and firm veterinarian-client-relationship.

To avoid the loss of important information that is necessary in order to ensure the success of therapy, smooth exchange of information between both veterinarian and client has to be ensured.

In a range of human medicine research studies it could be shown that a good physician-patient-relationship results in higher patient satisfaction, a better understanding of disease and therapy, higher treatment adherence, reduction of malpractice complaints and better health outcomes. It seems that those results can be transferred to veterinary medicine.

Over the past decades the idea of “shared decision-making” (SDM) as a relationship-centered model of the physician-patient-relationship has rapidly been gaining significance in human medicine. SDM is based on the following principles (Charles et al. 1990):

  • Shared decision-making involves at least two participants – the physician and patient
  • Both parties take steps to participate in the process of treatment decision-making
  • Information sharing is a prerequisite to shared decision-making
  • A treatment decision is made and both parties agree to the decision

“Fokus Tiergesundheit” investigates whether and to what extent the idea of shared decision-making applies in veterinary practice and how the communication during a visit is perceived by both parties the clients and the veterinarians. A survey of German veterinarians was be conducted fat the beginning of 2017 to clarify i.a. the following issues:

  • How do veterinarians envision „good communication“ during a consultation?
  • On which points of communication do veterinarians perceive potential risks for therapy success?
  • How do veterinarians assess the changes in client’s habits obtaining health and medical information by using internet research?

In a previous survey of German pet owners the project investigates whether there are discrepancies between the clients´ and the veterinarians´ perception of their communication.