Diagnosis and treatment decisions for a cancer patient can be significant challenges for both the veterinarian and client. In this study, 94 owners from a Facebook Pet Cancer Support Group completed a questionnaire about their experience and perceptions; the objective was to develop a better understanding of client needs, wants, and satisfaction in terms of interaction with veterinarians. About 77% of respondents were satisfied with their veterinarians. There were strong positive correlations between client satisfaction level and both information about treatment options and support received from the veterinarian.
There were several key findings in this study: First, clients valued problem-based informational support, including educational communication and open discussion of treatment options. It was important that clients be engaged in the management process and not feel pressured into decisions. Second, clients valued tangible support in terms of care, accessibility, and emotional investment. Examples include extra time during appointments, after-hours availability, and phone and email communications. Third, emotion-focused support (eg, compassion, caring demeanor) was not necessarily expected or desired from veterinarians, compared to the other forms of support. Veterinary education should include multiple methods to teach communication skills so that students develop the confidence and competence to satisfy client needs.