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Sources of Pet Health Information Used by Owners

Kogan, L. R., G. Goldwaser, et al. (2008). “Sources and frequency of use of pet health information and level of confidence in information accuracy, as reported by owners visiting small animal veterinary practices.” J Am Vet Med Assoc 232(10): 1536-42.

Although most people look to their physicians for health care information, they also utilize other sources, such as mass media. A survey conducted in 2005 determined that 74% of American adults are using the internet as a health information resource. Despite this statistic, many physicians appear unaware of the frequency with which their patients are accessing internet sites for health information. The purpose of the study reported here was to gain a better understanding of the various sources of pet health information and the frequency of their use and to assess the level of confidence in information accuracy, as reported by pet owners who visit their veterinarians. Seventeen small animal clinics in Fort Collins, Colorado were recruited to participate in the study. Study questionnaires were distributed to each clinic; staff recruited participants by asking all individuals who entered their clinic to anonymously complete a survey. The survey contained questions on owner demograhics. Other questions included species of pet that was brought to the clinic at that visit, the number of times the participant had visited the veterinary clinic in the past 12 months, and frequency of use and confidence in various sources of pet health information. Results indicated that pet owners who visited their veterinarians acquired pet information from veterinarians via the telephone or in person and from family or friends more frequently than they acquired such information from the internet. Pet owners also reported more confidence in information received from veterinarians compared with information from any other accessible source.
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