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Veterinarians' role in client decision-making

S. B. Christiansen, A. T. Kristensen, J. Lassen, P. Sandøe

WHEN a companion animal becomes seriously ill, its owner may be faced with difficult choices. In some cases, a decision may be easy, but in others the client may have doubts about the treatment choice and ask their vet for an opinion. How should vets reply? This qualitative study used the starting point of a chronically ill or aged animal whose owners needed to consider treatment options or euthanasia. It explored the challenges around this situation and investigated how clients experienced veterinary influence.

Interviews were conducted with 12 dog owners who had engaged with treatments or care for their dog that could be expected to affect their own lives, and whose dog, if it had died, had died no more than eight months previously. The interviews explored their concerns about animal welfare and euthanasia and their experiences of veterinary visits.

The study found that, in some situations, such as those relating to poor animal welfare or the exhaustion of treatment options, the interviewees were comfortable with their decision. However, in other situations, interviewees found decision-making more difficult. The reasons for this included dog-related challenges, such as when a dog's condition slowly deteriorated with no obvious cut-off point, and client-related …

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