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A New Metric for Quantifying the Relative Impact of Risk Factors on Loss of Working Life Illustrated in a Population of Working Dogs

By Geoffrey Caron-Lormier, Naomi D. Harvey, Gary C. W. England, Lucy Asher

Category Journal Articles

In a resource-limited world, organisations attempting to reduce the impact of health or behaviour issues need to choose carefully how to allocate resources for the highest overall impact. However, such choices may not always be obvious. Which has the biggest impact? A large change to a small number of individuals, or a small change to a large number of individuals? The challenge is identifying the issues that have the greatest impact on the population so potential interventions can be prioritised. We addressed this by developing a score to quantify the impact of health conditions and behaviour problems in a population of working guide dogs using data from Guide Dogs, UK. The cumulative incidence of different issues was combined with information about their impact, in terms of reduction in working life, to create a work score. The work score was created at population-level to illustrate issues with the greatest impact on the population and to understand contributions of breeds or crossbreeds to the workforce. An individual work deficit score was also created and means of this score used to illustrate the impact on working life within a subgroup of the population such as a breed, or crossbreed generation. The work deficit scores showed that those removed for behavioural issues had a greater impact on the overall workforce than those removed for health reasons. Additionally trends over time illustrated the positive influence of interventions Guide Dogs have made to improve their workforce. Information highlighted by these scores is pertinent to the effort of Guide Dogs to ensure partnerships are lasting. Recognising that the scores developed here could be transferable to a wide variety of contexts and species, most notably human work force decisions; we discuss possible uses and adaptations such as reduction in lifespan, quality of life and yield in production animals.


Katie Carroll

Date 2016
Publication Title PLoS ONE
Volume 11
Issue 11
Pages 17
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0165414
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Dogs
  6. Health
  7. Mammals
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. risk factors
  10. Service animals
  11. Working animals