Human Behaviour in Veterinary Care

animal behaviour and welfare
veterinary human behaviour change

MacKay Jill R. D.

Pollock K.


November 22, 2023

The human in veterinary practice is an oft-neglected component of both human and animal welfare. Those in vet practice, including veterinarians, vet nurses, technical staff, and front-of-house staff all have a role to play in ensuring that animals receive the best possible care. How should clinicians approach the cognitive load of decision making in stressful situations, recognise the biases in their decision making, and balance non-technical skills alongside highly specialised clinical skills to support animal health? Veterinary work requires effective communication across diverse teams in stressful situations, and good animal care necessitates an understanding of human factors in the veterinary practice. Even after care has concluded, veterinarians need to recognise the impact that human behaviour has on supporting animal welfare. We describe how human behaviour impacts veterinary care, and how veterinarians can utilise up-to-date research on human behaviour such as the Knowledge Deficit Model of communication, the Theory of Planned Behaviour, and the 5As Behavioural Change model to improve animal welfare.

Behind the Paper

You know, sometimes you nearly talk yourself out of something.

When CABI reached out to us to ask if we’d be interested in a Case Study, I spent far too much time trying to say I didn’t know enough about this topic. While I’ve had an interest in this field for a long time now, I am constantly faced with how little we know about this topic and how big the field is.

Luckily, wiser heads prevailed (thank you Kristina) and I’m really delighted with this Case Study. I think its an excellent introduction to a hugely important and somewhat under-researched topic. I hope folk find it useful!