Communication skills education onsite in a veterinary practice

Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Sep;80(3):337-44. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.06.012. Epub 2010 Jul 6.


Objective: To provide communication skills education to veterinary professionals in the practice setting and evaluate the training by measuring veterinarian communication pre- and post-intervention.

Methods: This is a case-based pre-test/post-test intervention study of a veterinary practice in Denver, CO. Four veterinarians from a single practice and 48 clients (selected to represent wellness and problem visits) were recruited to the study. The veterinarians took part in a training intervention consisting of a year-long curriculum, including interactive communication modules, individual coaching and communication laboratories. Six visit interactions were measured for each of the 4 veterinarians pre- and post-skill training. The Roter interaction analysis system (RIAS) was used to analyze the study's 48 videotapes.

Results: Compared to the pre-training visits, veterinarians gathered twice as much lifestyle-social data (p<0.02), and used 1.5 times more partnership building (p<0.03) and positive rapport-building (p<0.01) communication. Clients provided 1.4 times more lifestyle/social information (p<0.02) and expressed 1.7 times more emotional statements (p<0.01) in post-training visits.

Conclusion: The training intervention promoted a more client-centered approach to veterinarian-client communication.

Practice implications: Practice-based communication training is novel to veterinary practice. As a case study, generalization of the findings are limited, however the findings support the efficacy of the communication intervention and enhanced utilization of veterinarian-client communication skills by these veterinarians.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animal Technicians / psychology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Colorado
  • Communication*
  • Curriculum
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Animal
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Veterinarians / psychology*
  • Veterinary Medicine / methods*
  • Videotape Recording
  • Young Adult