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Objectives

To analyse the structure of small animal consultations in order to increase understanding of the consultation processes, locate decision-making in the wider practice context and stimulate further research.

Methods

Analysis of 48 video-recorded consultations from first opinion small animal practices. These consultations were time and thematically coded in order to enable analysis.

Results

The mean length of the recorded consultations was 11 minutes and 45 seconds with a range of 4–28 minutes. Analysis indicates that both the clinical tasks and communication taking place in the consultation are often performed in an iterative and interactive fashion in contrast to the sequential methods frequently being taught.

Clinical Significance

This study shows that the consultation is a complex process that is often performed in an iterative and interactive fashion and that may be difficult to complete within the 10 minutes frequently allocated. This warrants further research.