Factors affecting the client-veterinarian communication and breaking bad news in companion animal practice in Italy
Keywords:Communication, attitude, pets, breaking bad news, veterinary practice
Client-veterinarian communication increases client satisfaction and compliance as well as the welfare of companion animals. Conversely, poor communication affects the health and the welfare of both humans and animals, mainly in a critical circumstance such as breaking bad news. In many countries, the veterinary education programs included also this skill, but in Italy these aspects are poorly considered and no data are available. The purpose of this study was to survey pet owners in order to investigate the factors affecting the client-veterinarian communication and the client’s satisfaction with communication and breaking bad news. The 78.7% of the participants considered the pet a family member; owner’s gender, household composition and pets in the household affected significantly how the pet was considered. How the participants considered the pet was significantly associated with the perception of the bad news and this result was confirmed by a consistent and significant trend. The owner’s gender affected significantly the perception of the veterinarian’s role while delivering the bad news. After the news, 41.8% of participants thought the veterinarian did not share their grief or was insincere. The household composition affected the participant’s satisfaction with communication. The outcomes showed the importance of pets to their owners and the difficulties experienced in receiving bad news. Results suggest that in companion animal practice there is not only an animal to treat, but also an owner-pet entity requiring specific communication skills. The owners might be afflicted by veterinary practice and this is a public health issue in a One Health perspective.