Research survey seeks opinions of those making end-of-life decisions for horses, donkeys

Study team seeks to learn more about all aspects of the decision, from assessing when it should be considered, through to the process and aftercare.
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The experiences and opinions of owners around the world involved in end-of-life decisions for horses and donkeys are being sought by researchers.

The online survey takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

It aims to collect a range of different perspectives on end-of-life decision-making for horses, donkeys, and their hybrids, and map out all the potential people involved in the process.

Participants can be in any country, but must be at least 18 years old. They need to be the current owner or caregiver for an equid, or work in equine care or management. This includes yard managers, grooms, professional riders, breeders and trainers, as well as those involved in healthcare, such as veterinarians, vet nurses, farriers, dentists, nutritionists, behaviourists, and equine charity workers.

The researchers, with Nottingham University in England, are interested in getting responses from owners, regardless of whether they have made end-of-life decisions. However, they must be a current horse owner/carer, or current equine professional to participate.

The survey also links to some existing resources in Britain around quality of life and euthanasia options to see how many people are aware of, and using, these.

It also asks about the different components of shared decision-making models to evaluate what people are currently doing, and what they would be prepared to do in the future.

The research is part of work towards a doctorate by principal researcher Amelia Cameron.

Work to date has involved a scoping review of shared decision-making models used across companion animals, and focus groups with veterinary practices.

The survey will gather wider opinions, after which Cameron will develop a model specifically for horse end-of-life decisions, and trial it in veterinary practices and charities.

Lead supervisor Professor Sarah Freeman says: “We are looking at all aspects of the decision, from assessing when end of life should be considered, through to the information shared with the client, the shared decision, the process and the aftercare.”

The identity of participants will remain anonymous.

The researchers stress there are no right or wrong answers, and urged participants to be as honest as they can. Questions, they said, will ask about past and potential future end-of-life decisions, which some people may find upsetting.

The survey can be found here.

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