Construction of a conceptual framework for assessment of health-related quality of life in calves with respiratory disease

Bull, Emily, Bartram, David, Cock, Beverley, Odeyemi, Issac and Main, David (2021) Construction of a conceptual framework for assessment of health-related quality of life in calves with respiratory disease. Animal. ISSN 1751-732X

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Abstract

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is one of the most prevalent diseases affecting beef and dairy calves worldwide, with implications for lifetime productivity, antimicrobial use, and animal welfare. Our objective was to construct a conceptual framework for assessment of health-related quality of life (HRQL) in calves with respiratory disease, based on indicators suitable for direct pen-side visual observation. HRQL measures aim to evaluate the subjective experience of the animal rather than any related pathology. A conceptual framework graphically represents the concepts to be measured and the potential relationships between them. A multistage, mixed method approach involving diverse data sources, collection methods and stakeholders, was applied to promote comprehensiveness, understanding and validity of findings. A scoping review was conducted to identify, characterise and collate evidence of behavioural indicators of BRD studies. The indicators identified were mapped against the principal attributes of five prominent animal welfare assessment frameworks to appraise their correspondence with different characterisations of the dimensions of welfare. Forty-two semi-structured, individual, qualitative interviews with a purposeful sample of experienced veterinarians and stockpersons from UK, US and Canada, elicited in-depth descriptions of the visual observations of HRQL they make in diagnosing and assessing the response to treatment of calves with BRD. Verbatim interview transcripts were examined using inductive thematic analysis. Respondents provided insights and understanding of indicators of HRQL in BRD such as interaction with feed source, hair coat condition, specific characteristics of eye appearance, eye contact, rumen fill and stretching (pandiculation). In an on-farm pilot study to assess the value of potential HRQL behavioural indicators, there was a moderate positive correlation between behaviour and clinical scores (rs = 0.59) across the 5 days preceding veterinary treatment for BRD. Interestingly the behaviours evaluated were observed a median of 1.0 (interquartile range, IQR: 1.0 – 3.5) days before clinical indicators used in the scoring system. The proposed conceptual framework for assessment of HRQL features 23 putative indicators of HRQL distributed across two interrelated domains – clinical signs and behavioural expressions of emotional wellbeing. It has potential applications to inform the development of new HRQL measures such as structured questionnaires and automated sensor technologies.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Behaviour, Bovine, Qualitative, Subjective experience, Welfare
Divisions: Agriculture, Food and Environment
Depositing User: Ms Emily Bull
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2021 09:46
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 04:20
URI: https://rau.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/16443

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