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Being Nice Is Not Enough-Exploring Relationship-Centered Veterinary Care With Structural Equation Modeling. A Quantitative Study on German Pet Owners' Perception

By Alina Maureen Küper, Roswitha Merle

Category Journal Articles

During the last years, the philosophy of relationship-centered care gained increasing attention in veterinary medicine. Relationship-centered care is based on a joint venture between pet owner and veterinarians and therefore offers the opportunity to satisfy the pet owners’ need for participation in medical decision-making and to provide the best care for the patient. Although research on relationship-centered care in the veterinary consultation is still limited, the available findings suggest that the characteristics of relationship-centered care reflect the pet owners’ expectations on satisfactory veterinary care. In this study a quantitative survey was conducted among German pet owners that collected information regarding their perception of the veterinarians’ communication during the last appointments. Questionnaires were available online and paper-based. Data were analyzed using exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modeling using SAS. First aim of the study was to explore structural equation modeling (SEM) as an opportunity to evaluate quantitative data in the field of research on relationship-centered care. Further, SEM was used to evaluate associations between the implementation of different characteristics of relationship-centered care in the veterinary practice (empathic communication, partnership-building) and latent outcome variables regarding the pet owners (pet owners’ need for further information, consultation of competing health care providers). N = 1,270 valid questionnaires were completed. Participants owned small companion animals (55.6%), horses (7.6%), or both (36.9%) within the last 2 years. Results of SEM suggest that partnership-centered and empathic communication decreased the pet owners’ needs for further information (e.g., from online sources) and their need to consult alternative health providers (e.g., homeopaths). Especially addressing the pet owners’ worries and fears, discussing pros and cons of diagnostic and therapeutic options as well as providing the required amount of information were shown to be large influence factors within the model. Therefore, veterinarians are recommended to implement the concept of partnership-centered care in their daily practice, for it may increase pet owners’ loyalty and satisfaction. Results may motivate future research in this field. Further development of the proposed model assumptions may enable valuable progress in the field of quantitative research on relationship-centered care.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 6
Pages 16
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2019.00056
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Empathy
  3. open access
  4. peer-reviewed
  5. Pet owners.
  6. Veterinary medicine
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed