Veterinarian-client communication during euthanasia discussions

Nogueira, Leandra Jane
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University of Guelph

This study used undisclosed standardized client (SC) visits to describe veterinarian-client communication during euthanasia discussions. Client and veterinarian perceptions of communication during the visit and the level of agreement between them were also examined. Thirty-two veterinarians in southern Ontario received visits from two undisclosed SCs. Cases reflected common reasons for euthanasia discussions. Appointments were audio recorded and analyzed using the Measure of Patient-Centered Communication. Veterinarians and SCs filled out complementary perceptions questionnaires. Observational results indicated that veterinarians may not be exploring client concerns in key areas, and may not be facilitating client involvement in developing a management plan, particularly with less assertive clients. Agreement between veterinarian and client perceptions of communication was poor. These results raise concerns regarding the potential for misunderstanding, conflict, and complaints, especially given the sensitive nature of euthanasia discussions. These findings support the need for formal training in end-of-life communication and euthanasia decision making.

euthanasia, Veterinary-client communication, perceptions, management plan, end-of-life communication