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Pet Grief: Tools to Assess Owners' Bereavement and Veterinary Communication Skills

By Ines Testoni, Loriana De Cataldo, Lucia Ronconi, Elisa Silvia Colombo, Cinzia Stefanini, Barbara Dal Zotto, Adriano Zamperini

Category Journal Articles

In Italy, there are still very few studies on the psychological impact of losing a pet. The need to fill this gap springs from the fact that pet loss counseling services are increasingly being activated. The aim of this study is the Italian adaptation of instruments for veterinary counseling services. The survey instruments adapted were: Pet Bereavement Questionnaire (PBQ) to describe the individual experience of pet-grief; Regret of Bereaved Family Members (RBFM) to assess the family regret; Shared Decision-Making Questionnaire (SDM-Q-9) for decision making in end of life; Consultation and Relational Empathy Measure (CARE) to assess the veterinarian relational empathy during clinical encounters. All the instruments obtained good internal reliability, and the results of the confirmative factor analysis of all the Italian versions were in accordance with the original ones. The correlational analysis among the variables evidenced the following aspects: the more the owner feels involved by the veterinarian in the decision making process the more the veterinarian is perceived by the owner as empathetic; when the veterinarian is perceived as empathic and the decision making is shared the owners’ pet bereavement distress and regrets are reduced; negative dimensions of bereavement (grief, guilt, anger, intrusive thoughts and decisional regrets) are strictly linked to each other, therefore if one dimension increases or decreases the others do too. The path analysis suggests that developing a veterinary relationship-centered care practice may be beneficial for pet owners facing end-of-life issues and the death of their companion animals since it showed that shared-decision making strategies and empathic communication may reduce negative dimensions of bereavement that may complicate grief. Interestingly, adopting shared decision-making strategies may contribute to be perceived as more empathic. These aspects may be taken into consideration in end-of -life communication training in veterinary medicine.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 2
Pages 16
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9020067
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Communication
  3. Counseling
  4. Grief
  5. open access
  6. Pet loss
  7. Pets and companion animals
  8. Veterinarians
  1. open access