Veterinarian-client-patient communication patterns used during clinical appointments in companion animal practice

Jane R. Shaw, Brenda N. Bonnett, Cindy L. Adams, Debra L. Roter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective - To identify communication patterns used by veterinarians during clinical appointments in companion animal practice. Design - Cross-sectional descriptive study. Sample Population - A random sample of 50 companion animal practitioners in southern Ontario and a convenience sample of 300 clients and their pets. Procedure - For each practitioner, 6 clinical appointments (3 wellness appointments and 3 appointments related to a health problem) were videotaped. The Roter interaction analysis system was used to analyze the resulting 300 videotapes, and cluster analysis was used to identify veterinarian communication patterns. Results - 175 (58%) appointments were classified as having a biomedical communication pattern, and 125 (42%) were classified as having a biolifestyle-social communication pattern. None were classified as having a consumerist communication pattern. Twenty-three (46%) veterinarians were classified as using a predominantly biomedical communication pattern, 19 (38%) were classified as using a mixed communication pattern, and 8 (16%) were classified as using a predominantly biolifestyle-social communication pattern. Pattern use was related to the type of appointment. Overall, 103 (69%) wellness appointments were classified as biolifestyle-social and 127 (85%) problem appointments were classified as biomedical. Appointments with a biomedical communication pattern (mean, 11.98 minutes) were significantly longer than appointments with a biolifestyle-social communication pattern (10.43 minutes). Median relationship-centered care score (ie, the ratio of client-centered talk to veterinarian-centered talk) was significantly higher during appointments with a biolifestyle-social communication pattern (1.10) than during appointments with a biomedical communication pattern (0.40). Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Results suggest that veterinarians in companion animal practice use 2 distinct patterns of communication. Communication pattern was associated with duration of visit, type of appointment, and relationship-centeredness. Recognition of these communication patterns has implications for veterinary training and client and patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)714-721
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Volume228
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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