Factors affecting the perception of recovery quality in horses after anaesthesia



Reasons for performing study

A significant effect of gender, experience and background, i.e. an evaluator's relationship with horses as equine anaesthetists, orthopaedic surgeons, practitioners or owners, on perceptions of recovery quality after anaesthesia would reduce the validity of recovery quality scoring systems.


To determine the effects of evaluator background, experience and gender on their perceptions of recovery quality; and questionnaire response rate as a function of background.

Study design

Cross-sectional survey.


A total of 440 potential evaluators were invited to evaluate the video-recorded recoveries of 24 horses using a visual analogue scale (VAS) in which 0 = worst, 100 = best possible recovery. A mean score was generated for each of the 1–24 recoveries within each background group. These were compared using Spearman's rank correlation. The effect of gender and experience on VAS scores were analysed using an ordinal logistic regression after scores were categorised into ‘intermediate, ‘worst’ and ‘best’ recovery categories based on median, 25th and 75th percentile VAS scores, respectively.


The overall response rate was 35%. The greatest was from the anaesthetists (78%) followed by surgeons (43%). The response rate among owners and practitioners was 26%. Correlation among VAS scores across all background groups was high (Spearman rank >0.90; P<0.001). Among the combined veterinarians, there was no significant gender (P = 0.551) or experience (P = 0.103) effect. Among horse owners, the effect of experience was not significant (P = 0.116) although gender was (P = 0.027). Male horse owners awarded significantly greater scores than females.


When VAS are used to grade recovery quality, neither the background nor the gender of veterinary evaluators affects quality perception. Male owners awarded greater scores than female owners, implying that they are less critical of recovery quality and a gender effect among horse owners must be considered when VAS are used to score recovery quality.