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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Dairy veterinarians' skills in motivational interviewing are linked to client verbal behavior

Svensson, C.; Forsberg, L.; Emanuelson, U.; Reyher, K. K.; Bard, A. M.; Betner, S.; von Bromssen, C.; Wickstrom, H.


Veterinarians often give advice in a persuasive form, a style that has been shown to evoke resistance to change in clients experiencing psychological ambivalence (i.e. those who see both advantages and disadvantages to changing). With this style of communication, veterinarians run the risk of counteracting their purpose to encourage clients to follow recommendations. Motivational interviewing(MI)is a client-centered communication methodology that aims to facilitate clients' internal motivation to change. In MI,Change Talkrepresents clients' own statements expressing consideration of, motivation for or commitment to behavior change and has been shown to be strongly correlated with behavior change.Sustain Talkis corresponding statements related to maintaining thestatus quo. The aim of this exploratory study was to evaluate the potential of MI to facilitate behavior change in veterinary herd health management(VHHM)by investigating the effect of dairy cattle veterinarians' MI skills on clientChangeandSustain Talk. We recorded VHHM consultancies on 170 Swedish cattle farms performed by 36 veterinarians, randomly distributed into 2 groups: MI veterinarians (n= 18) had received 6-month training in MI and control veterinarians (n= 18) had not received any training. Veterinarians' MI skills were assessed using the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity coding system 4.2.1 and categorized as poor_untrained, poor_trained, near moderate and moderate. Client communication was coded using the Client Language Easy Rating coding system. The effect of MI skills onChange Talk, Sustain TalkandProportion of Change Talk(Change Talkdivided by the sum ofSustain TalkplusChange Talk)was investigated using cross-classified regression models with random intercepts for veterinarian and client (farm). The models also included additional explanatory variables (e.g. type of veterinarian and client's satisfaction with the consultation). The veterinarian's MI skills were associated with the client'sChange Talk,but results regardingSustain TalkorProportion of Change Talkwere inconclusive. Clients of veterinarians reaching the highest (i.e. moderate) MI skills expressed 1.5 times moreChange Talkthan clients of untrained veterinarians. Clients of general large animal practitioners expressed lessSustain Talkthan clients of animal health veterinarians and had higherProportion of Change Talk.Results indicate that learning to practice MI may be one means to improve adherence to veterinary recommendations and to improve efficiency in VHHM services.


veterinarian-client communication; Change Talk; herd health management; cattle; Client Language Easy Rating

Published in

2020, Volume: 14, number: 10, article number: PII S175173112000107X