Acknowledging the Relevance of Client Compliance
To successfully measure how well a veterinary practice’s goals are being achieved, a practice must take into account client compliance (MacKay, 2005). In a veterinary setting, compliance is defined as a “process where pets receive a screening, procedure or treatment believed to be best for them by a veterinary professional [to] establish a consistent quality of care” (Gerrard, 2015). Compliance is built on a foundation of trust, and when clients trust that a veterinarian is working in their pet’s best interest, they are more open and willing to follow a set plan of treatment (American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA], n.d.). C
Not only does a higher compliance rate mean higher revenue, but it also leads to healthier patients and more informed clients (MacKay, 2005).
The Problem: Communication and Compliance
As vital as compliance is to indicating a well-functioning practice, it was not until recent years that compliance was believed to be a concern (Talamonti et al., 2015). A major publication in 2003 by the American Animal Hospital Association discovered that US pet owners only held an overall 64% compliance rate for recommended treatments (Gerrard, 2015). A leading cause of such low levels of owner compliance is issues of communication between clients and vets; lack of communication leads to a lack of compliance (Bard et al., 2017; Cipolla, Bonizzi,& Zecconi, 2017; Gerrard, 2015; Talamonti et al., 2015).
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Having proper communication and an established relationship between the vet, client, and patient enables the vet to make sound judgments when deciding how to care and treat a patient (AVMA, n.d.). This “relationship” is considered an ethical policy of veterinary practice outlined by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and is referred to as a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) (AVMA, n.d.). Veterinarians are highly-trained professionals that are equipped with the skills needed to properly assess, diagnose, and prescribe medications for a pet, but if clients do not understand the rationale or feel like their doctor does not understand where they are coming from, they are much less likely to comply with treatment (AVMA, n.d.; Cipolla, Bonizzi, & Zecconi, 2017).
Currents Methods of Bolstering Owner Compliance
Along with communication, behavior and attitude of owners also impact rates of compliance (Bard et al., 2017). The importance of behavior change is “at the heart of veterinary practice” since it is ultimately the owner that cares for and determines the quality of life for their pet; an owner must have the will to see their pet in the best condition they can be (Bard et al., 2017). One suggestion for minimizing miscommunication is to use measures such as doctor recommendations and scheduling follow-ups (MacKay, 2005). Other in communication could be minimized with more opportunities for education which implies that veterinarians need to spend more time educating clients about treatment plans (Talamonti et al., 2015).
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Beside communication and behavior, alternative methods of combating lacking owner compliance do exist. Some forms of medications, such as a Convenia injection, must be given at the veterinary practice (and only need to be given once); thus, there can be “no missed doses” in comparison to take-home pill medications (100% Compliance, n.d.) The injection solves the problem of owner compliance by eradicating the need for owners to remember to give their animal an antibiotic pill in the first place, along with the potential for an inefficient dosage amount (100% Compliance, n.d.).
Rationale of Study
Owner compliance has not been studied enough, despite being a fundamental factor to the success of veterinary medicine (Talamonti et al., 2017). For veterinarians running practices, understanding specifically why their clientele is or is not motivated to adhere to treatment plans is vital to how they delegate limited time and resources (). For the client, not having to pay for additional doses of medications that could have
The aim of this study will be to investigate what specific factors influence an owner’s compliance for following post-checkup and medication instructions for both non-exotic and exotic animals. While studies have been conducted to address the relevance and stress the need for better compliance and communication, there is an overall lack of analysis for what affects and owner to choose whether or not to follow a vet’s orders. Additionally, studies on compliance traditionally focus on dogs and cats only; there is little to no literature pertaining to owner compliance with exotic pets (Cipolla, Bonizzi, & Zecconi, 2017; MacKay, 2005). This study will provide new insights on clients that veterinarians working in small animal practices can use to assess their practice’s efficiency and implement improvements if necessary.
- American Veterinary Medical Association. (n.d.). Veterinarian-Client-Patient relationship (VCPR) FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/VCPR-FAQs.aspx
- Bard, A. M., Main, D. C. J., Haase, A. M., Whay, H. R., Roe, E. J., & Reyher, K. 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
- Cipolla, M., Bonizzi, L., & Zecconi, A. (2017). Factors affecting the client-veterinarian communication and breaking bad news in companion animal practice in Italy. Dog Behavior, 3(2), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.4454/db.v3i2.51
- Gerrard, E. (2015, April 21). Owner compliance – Educating clients to act on pet care advice [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.vettimes.co.uk/app/uploads/wp-post-to-pdf-enhanced-cache/1/owner-compliance-educating-clients-to-act-on-pet-care-advice.pdf
- MacKay, C. (2005). Client compliance -- The key to successful veterinary practice. Retrieved from https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?pId=11196&catId=30762&id=3854148&ind=348&objTypeID=17
- 100% compliance. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/convenia/100-compliance.aspx
- Talamonti, Z., Cassis, C., Brambilla, P. G., Scarpa, P., Stefanello, D., Cannas, S., … Palestrini, C. (2015). Preliminary study of pet owner adherence in behaviour, cardiology, urology, and oncology fields. Veterinary Medicine International, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/618216
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