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Developing practical recommendations for preventative healthcare consultations involving dogs and cats using a Delphi technique
  1. Zoe Belshaw1,
  2. Natalie Jane Robinson1,
  3. Marnie Louise Brennan1 and
  4. Rachel S Dean2
  1. 1 Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Loughborough, UK
  2. 2 VetPartners Ltd, York, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; rachel.dean{at}


Preventive healthcare is the focus of a large proportion of UK small animal veterinary consultations. The evidence base for how to optimise these consultations is limited. Therefore, evidence-based practical recommendations are needed for veterinary surgeons conducting these consultations. The aim of this study was to use an evidence-based methodology to develop the first consensus recommendations to improve dog and cat preventative healthcare consultations (PHCs).

Evidence from multiple sources was systematically examined to generate a list of 18 recommendations. Veterinary surgeons and pet owners with extensive experience of PHCs were recruited to an anonymous panel to obtain consensus on whether these recommendations would improve PHCs. A Delphi technique was followed during three rounds of online questionnaire, with consensus set at 80 per cent agreement or disagreement with each recommendation. Thirteen of the original 18 recommendations reached consensus (>80per cent agreement), while the five remaining recommendations did not reach consensus.

Globally, these are the first evidence-based recommendations developed specifically in relation to small animal general practice PHCs, generated via a Delphi panel including both veterinary surgeons and pet owners. Future work is needed to understand how these recommendations can be implemented in a range of veterinary practice settings.

  • consultations
  • preventative healthcare
  • preventative medicines
  • Delphi technique
  • small animal
  • companion animal
  • vaccination
  • general practice

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, an indication of whether changes were made, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Funding This study was supported by a grant from MSD Animal Health. NJR and ZB’s time was funded by MSD Animal Health, and RD and MLB’s time was covered by The University of Nottingham. The topic of study, study design, statistical analysis, interpretation of the results, decision to publish and writing of the manuscript were undertaken independently of the funders.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by the ethics committee at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham (reference number: 1521 150813).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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