PetSmart Charities funds CSU study to help improve access to veterinary care in Spanish-speaking communities

dvm360 Staff
dvm360, dvm360 June 2021, Volume 56,

The over $350,000 grant will fund phase 1 of Colorado State University’s multiyear interdisciplinary study to assess linguistic and cultural barriers between veterinary professionals and Spanish-speaking companion animal owners.

According to World Population Review, the United States has the largest population of Spanish-speaking residents where Spanish isn’t the predominant language. However, an access gap to veterinary care for Spanish-speaking pet owners remains.

To help better understand these cultural and linguistic barriers to veterinary care, investigators from Colorado State University (CSU) College of Liberal Arts are conducting a multiyear interdisciplinary study. PetSmart Charities’ generous donation will allow the university to conduct phase 1 of its research, which involves performing a comprehensive language needs analysis of veterinary professionals in predominantly Spanish-speaking communities, according to a Colorado State University release.

“Language barriers shouldn’t stand between Spanish-speaking communities and veterinary care for their companions,” says Aimee Gilbreath, MBA, president of PetSmart Charities. “We are proud to support the diverse communities in which we live and look forward to a future where language divides no longer limit access to veterinary care.”

Lead investigator Shannon Zeller, a Spanish instructor and curriculum developer from CSU’s department of languages, is teaming up with coprincipal investigator Danielle Frey, DVM, director of veterinary international and outreach student experiences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to conduct this research. Additionally, 5 university students will support this initiative: a graduate teaching assistant, a graduate research assistant, and 3 veterinary students.

This June, the CSU researchers will evaluate daily communication between veterinary professionals and their Spanish-speaking clients in clinics and shelters located along the Front Range. Then, the team will use this information to pinpoint any existing communication gaps and discover necessary measures to help resolve them.

In phase 2 of the study, which still needs funding, investigators will utilize the extensive research from phase 1 to help develop in-person and online Spanish-language education opportunities for students at CSU and elsewhere.

“Providing a communication pathway for veterinarians to interact with our country’s growing Spanish-speaking community will help create access to care for those families and their pets,” says Frey.

Learn more about PetSmart Charities and its mission here.

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