Strategies adopted by key influencers to promote the uptake of advice on animal health and welfare

A Scrase, Federica Monte, Joy Pritchard, Kristen Reyher, David Main

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Posterpeer-review


The uptake of animal welfare advice and change for the benefit of farmed and pet animals is slow, despite a wealth of scientific knowledge in the field of animal welfare science. Developing techniques to encourage farmers and pet owners to instigate behavioural change therefore remains a critical goal for animal welfare improvement. Our research identified the techniques key influencers, such as veterinary surgeons, currently employed to communicate ideas and engage with animal owners on matters of animal health and welfare.

Six facilitated focus group workshops with farm assurance scheme assessors, staff of pet re-homing centres and final year veterinary undergraduates were organised to identify different strategies for motivating animal owners to promote uptake of technical advice likely to improve animal welfare. We concluded that these influencers were able to identify a wide range of potentially successful strategies. Influencers also often recognised a number of difficulties and barriers to motivating animal owners. Furthermore, despite the very different context of each role, the strategies were similar in each workshop, and could be broadly categorised as relating to (i) features of the personal relationship, (ii) personal characteristics of the influencer during interaction with the farmer/client, (iii) characteristics of the inspection/consultation process, (iv) technical analysis of the animal welfare situation and (v) the power relationship between the roles of influencer and farmer/client (not personal).

Many of the strategies proposed also mapped onto the concepts underlying Motivational Interviewing (MI), an evidence-based, client-centred counselling style widely used to elicit behaviour change in human medical contexts. This outcome stimulated further research to assess influencer communication in this light, with a focus on interactions between advisors (veterinary surgeons and farm assurance assessors) and dairy farmers. An analysis of existing advisor-farmer discourse was made with regards to typical communication strategies and the tenets of MI. The potential for MI to be harnessed as a communication method to improve the uptake of advice on animal health and welfare was discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventUFAW International Symposium: Animal Populations- World Resources and Animal Welfare - Zagreb, Croatia
Duration: 14 Jul 201515 Jul 2015


ConferenceUFAW International Symposium


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