gms | German Medical Science

4th InVeST – International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching Conference

14.09. - 16.09.2015, Hannover

Onsite communication skills education and outcomes assessment in a companion animal practice

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Jane Shaw - Colorado State University, Fort Collins, United States
  • Gwyn Barley - Colorado Trust, Denver, United States
  • Kirsti Broadfoot - University of Colorado, Denver, United States
  • Ashley Hill - University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
  • Debra Roter - Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States

InVeST 2015: International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching Conference. Hannover, 14.-16.09.2015. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2015. Doc15invest31

doi: 10.3205/15invest31, urn:nbn:de:0183-15invest318

Published: September 10, 2015

© 2015 Shaw et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



The objectives of the study were twofold: to provide communication skills education to veterinary professionals in the practice setting and to evaluate the efficacy of 6-month training by measuring veterinarian-client communication and client and veterinarian satisfaction pre and post-intervention.

This is a case-based pre-test/post-test intervention study of a veterinary practice in Denver, Colorado.

A purposive sample of three veterinarians and seven support staff were recruited to the study from a single practice.

The entire veterinary practice participated in the 6-month educational program that included interactive communication modules, individual coaching and a communication laboratory. Thirty-six clients participated in the study by having a wellness or problem visit video-recorded (18 pre and 18 post skill training). In addition, 180 clients completed satisfaction surveys (90 pre and 90 post skills training). The Roter interaction analysis system (RIAS) was used to analyze the visit videotapes, and physician visit satisfaction scale and client visit satisfaction questionnaire (CSQ) were used.

Compared to pre-training visits, appointments were 5.40 minutes longer (p = 0.04), veterinarians asked 60% fewer closed lifestyle-social questions (p = 0.05), provided more 1.40 more biomedically-related client education (p < 0.01), and used 1.5 times more facilitative (p < 0.01) and 1.25 times more emotional rapport (p = 0.04) communication. Clients provided 1.3 times more biomedically-related information (p = 0.05), tended to ask more questions (p = 0.06) and engaged in twice more social conversation (p < 0.01) in post-training visits. After the training, aspects of visit satisfaction improved for both veterinarians and clients. Veterinarians perceived their clients as complaining less (p < 0.01), and more personable (p < 0.01) and trusting (p < 0.01), and clients felt more involved in the appointment (p = 0.04) and reported greater veterinarian interest in their opinion (p < 0.01).

The training fostered a more client-centered approach with greater client education, rapport and facilitation of client input in an unhurried environment, resulting in enhanced overall veterinarian and parts of client visit satisfaction.