Exploring companion animal caretakers' attitudes, perceptions and behavioural drivers of antimicrobial use within the social context of veterinary care
Frey, E., Kedrowicz, A., & Hedgpeth, M. W. (2022, September 9). JOURNAL OF SMALL ANIMAL PRACTICE.
To explore companion animal caretakers' attitudes, perceptions and behavioural drivers of antimicrobial use within the social context of veterinary care.Five semi-structured focus groups were conducted with 26 cat and dog owners. Transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis to systematically code and classify themes related to the study objectives.Thematic analysis revealed five themes - trust-building/relationships, shared decision-making/empowerment, clear communication, judicious use and concerns surrounding antimicrobial use. Strong veterinarian-client relationships were the underlying factor influencing acceptance of antimicrobial use stewardship principles. Participants viewed themselves as advocates for their animals and preferred a relationship-centred approach to care facilitated through competent communication. They cited the importance of clear communication related to diagnosis and antimicrobial recommendations including using client-friendly terminology, providing explicit instructions for antimicrobial use, and having a shared plan for next steps and follow-up communication. Participants reported challenges with administering antimicrobial drugs, expressed concerns with potential side effects and development of antimicrobial resistance. Consequently, they reported an interest in alternatives to antimicrobial drugs and a focus on preventive medicine that was counterbalanced with concerns for animal comfort and welfare.Conversations about antimicrobial use can be reframed to include alternatives to antimicrobials as part of the treatment plan, and clients can be empowered to play a more active role in their animals' care. Veterinarians can apply core communication skills to advance antimicrobial stewardship principles and thereby contribute to preserving the effectiveness and availability of antimicrobials while preserving the trusting relationship and shared decision-making between clients and veterinarians.