Communication Veterinarian - Owner

Challenges in veterinary communication: dealing with complementary and alternative veterinary medicine

The use of complementary and alternative medicine is increasingly popular, not only in humans but also for the treatment of our pets. Many owners are interested in or do already use complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) such as osteopathy, homeopathy or herbs. Unfortunately many vets do not know how to handle this increased public interest and furthermore owners do not always discuss their interest in and use of CAVM with a veterinarian. In addition, the number of users is unknown to date.

CAVM is defined as a group of diagnostic techniques and treatment methods which are not traditionally associated with the veterinary curriculum. Their effect is not always scientifically proven. "Alternative" veterinary medicine includes all methods that are used instead of traditional veterinary medicine, "complementary" methods are used in addition to traditional veterinary medicine. Examples of complementary or alternative veterinary medicine are acupuncture, physiotherapy, Bach flowers, herbs, osteopathy, chiropractic and homeopathy.

 The research project on communication about CAVM is part of the research on communication challenges in veterinary medicine and focuses on the animal owners’ use of and attitude towards CAVM and on communication about CAVM with the veterinarian. What is the owners opinion about CAVM? What are the reasons for using CAVM? Is it discussed with the vet? And if not, what are the reasons for non-disclosure?

 The first part of the research will consist of a survey of owners and veterinarians to find out how often CAVM is used, what owners and veterinarians think about it and how/if communication about CAVM takes place. In the second part, the communication about CAVM will be studied in detail by means of video recordings during consultations in order to ultimately be able to develop some communication guidelines for veterinarians. The collaboration between veterinarians and CAVM therapists will also be examined. The ultimate goal is to develop a training program for vets to improve communication about CAVM.

If you want to know more about this: Horse owners’ attitudes towards and motivators for using complementary and alternative veterinary medicine

If you have questions about this research please contact Prof. Annelies Decloedt.