Client behaviour change is at the heart of veterinary practice, where promoting animal health and welfare is often synonymous with engaging clients in animal management practices. In the medical realm, extensive research points to the link between practitioner communication and patient behavioural outcomes, suggesting that the veterinary industry could benefit from a deeper understanding of veterinarian communication and its effects on client motivation. Whilst extensive studies have quantified language components typical of the veterinary consultation, the literature is lacking in-depth qualitative analysis in this context. The objective of this study was to address this deficit, and offer new critical insight into veterinary communication strategies in the pursuit of client behaviour change. Role-play interactions (n = 15) between UK cattle veterinarians and an actress experienced in medical and veterinary education were recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. Analysis revealed that, overall, veterinarians tend to communicate in a directive style (minimal eliciting of client opinion, dominating the consultation agenda, prioritising instrumental support), reflecting a paternalistic role in the consultation interaction. Given this finding, recommendations for progress in the veterinary industry are made; namely, the integration of evidence-based medical communication methodologies into clinical training. Use of these types of methodologies may facilitate the adoption of more mutualistic, relationship-centred communication in veterinary practice, supporting core psychological elements of client motivation and resultant behaviour change.
- Bristol Population Health Science Institute
Bard, A., Main, D., Haase, A., Whay, B., Roe, E., & Reyher, K. (2017). The future of veterinary communication: Partnership or persuasion? A qualitative investigation of veterinary communication in the pursuit of client behaviour change. PLoS ONE, 12(3), [e0171380]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171380