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Factors associated with dairy farmers' satisfaction and preparedness to adopt recommendations after veterinary herd health visits

Ritter, Caroline, Adams, Cindy L., Kelton, David F., Barkema, Herman W.
Journal of dairy science 2019 v.102 no.5 pp. 4280-4293
counseling, education, farmers, farms, herd health, herds, questionnaires, regression analysis, veterinarians, veterinary clinics
Herd health and production consultancy are important aspects of the modern dairy veterinary practice; therefore, veterinary farm visits will likely be more successful if veterinary practitioners communicate effectively and meet farmers' expectations. Objectives were to assess dairy farmers' satisfaction with veterinary advisors and their perceived preparedness to adopt veterinary advice. Furthermore, we assessed whether farmers' satisfaction and preparedness to adopt advice were associated with specific predictor variables; that is, general (demographic) factors of veterinarians or farmers, communication tools used by veterinarians, and veterinarians' affective attributes during the farm visit. Audio-video recordings of 14 dairy veterinarians during 70 herd health and production management farm visits were analyzed using the Roter interaction analysis system. Demographic data, farmers' satisfaction, and farmers' preparedness to adopt advice were obtained by using questionnaires. Overall, farmers were satisfied with their veterinarian's communication during farm visits and 58% of farmers felt “absolutely” prepared to follow veterinary recommendations. Based on multivariable regression analysis, farmers' satisfaction was positively associated with their level of education and the amount of talk the veterinarian dedicated to counseling the farmer. However, satisfaction was negatively association with the ratio between veterinarian talk and farmer talk. In addition to various demographic variables, farmers' preparedness to adopt veterinary advice was positively associated with their satisfaction. Other predictor variables for farmers' preparedness to follow recommendations included increased veterinary counseling and frequent herd data discussions, whereas there was a negative relationship between number of farmer questions and dominance of the veterinarian during the farm visit. Identification of factors influencing farmers' satisfaction and preparedness to adopt advice will make veterinary communication more effective and could inform training of veterinarians in communication.