Companion animal veterinarians' use of clinical communication skills

Australian Veterinary Journal
M L McArthur, J R Fitzgerald


To describe the communication techniques used by clients and veterinarians during companion animal visits in Australia. A cross-sectional descriptive study. A total of 64 veterinary consultations were audiotaped and analysed with the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS); clients completed appointment level measures, including their satisfaction and perceptions of relational communication. Participants were 24 veterinarians and 64 clients. Statements intended to reassure clients were expressed frequently in the consultations, but in 59% of appointments empathy statements were not expressed towards either the client or the patient. In 10% of appointments, veterinarians did not used any open-ended questions. Overall client satisfaction was high and veterinarians' expressions of empathy directed to the client resulted in higher levels of client satisfaction. Clients' perceptions of relational communication were related to several veterinarian and client nonverbal scales. A focus on developing evidence-based clinical communication skills is expected to further enhance the veterinarian-client-patient relationship and associated clinical outcomes. Particular recommendations include the development of a broader emotion-handling rep...Continue Reading


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