SkeptVet Survey Results

The results of the SkeptVet Survey are in! In the week the survey has been available, I have collected 28 responses. While this is by no means a scientific poll, I appreciate everyone who took the time to contribute, and I hope to take your responses to heart and improve the site.

The bulk of the comments were positive, which provides a nice antidote to the hate mail I often get, so thank you! Respondents were pretty evenly divided between medical professionals and interested pet owners, and as is generally true for both groups women outnumbered men. There was also a nice range of ages represented.

The bulk of the positive feedback concerned the skeptical tone and scientific, fact-based nature of the content. That is gratifying since that is exactly what I hoped to provide in a digital medium dominated by marketing and credulous opinion.

The negative comments were often about the rather slow rate of new articles being written. As I have pointed out before, and as most respondents clearly understood, I maintain this site in my sparse free time not given to my other professional and personal commitments. But I appreciate that the demand is there, and I will do my best to keep up!

A number of readers also found the detail and length of my posts daunting and excessive. This is a huge weakness of my writing in general! I’m a bit compulsive about being thorough, and as long as many of my posts are, I often feel I have failed to adequately address all the aspects of complex subjects. But I recognize the value of concise, readable summaries with the availability of more detailed information for those who want it, so I will experiment with my posts a bit and see if I can better accommodate both those who want detailed, technical treatment of the subjects I address and those who want shorter, more readable assessment.

I am always keeping an eye out for potential guest writers, and I hope to have more content available from others in the future.

Thanks again for participating, and even though the poll is closed please feel free to offer feedback or suggestions at any time.

1. How would you identify yourself?

Category Number of Responses Percentage of Responses
Conventional Veterinary Professional 10 35.7
Alternative Veterinary Professional 1 3.6
Pet Owner 14 46.4
Pet Breeder/Trainer 1 3.6
Interested Bystander 3 10.7

 

2. How long have you been reading SkeptVet?

First Time 7.1 2
Less than 6 months 39.3 11
6 months to 1 year 28.6 8
More than 1 year 25 7

 3. Gender
Female 19 (67.9%)
Male 9 (32.1%) 

4. Age

Age Number of Respondents Percentage of Respondents
Under 20 0 0
20 to 30 years 6 21.4
30 to 40 years 8 28.6
40 to 50 years 9 32.1
50 to 60 years 3 10.7
Over 60 years 2 7.1

5. What do you like best about SkpetVet?
Real life examples of non-skeptic experiences

Nice to see finally some real EBM when it comes to pets.

Evidence-based analysis of CAM fads and/or veterinary habits lacking real benefit in recommended animal care. The voice of reason you offer – and often, research citations/links I can share so people can evaluate these issues more intelligently.

Your honest, straight-forward approach to disseminating veterinary information as it relates to CAM.

Good science based information. (that can be hard to find, especially regarding animal care) Assists me in making treatment decisions for my geriatric dog and cat.

Well-written, thoughtful articles

Citing Dr. Crislip was a great way to get started. I really appreciate his style of skepticism. More generally, pets are at least as subject to woo as people, and I suspect moreso. At the same time I have found a miserable paucity of information presented in a forum that I have access to and a format that is comprehensive an convincing.

The science

There’re aren’t many resources like it about science-based veterinary medicine. It’s refreshing, and well-written

Its honesty and careful questioning of conventional assumptions about pet care.

Wide range of topics covered

Intelligence and relevance.

the content

Generally well written and material presented as factual is clearly distinguished from opinion. Appropriate cites and links to primary research.

The well researched and thought out articles that directly relate to my practice (most of them).

I love animals, and I love science. It is nice to see them coming together in a great blog! The articles are wonderful and well written!

High quality of writing and plenty of information accessibly presented. It’s one of the few sceptical veterinary blogs therefore very much needed.

Content!

I don’t think there’s anyone else out there looking at the vet literature or applying these skeptic principles to the family pet. I really appreciate having this as a resource rather than trying to wade through the internet cesspool of untested pet advice.

Your medical and science based opinions of alternative treatments for pets.

I like seeing “CAM” debunked on this site, and learning about treatments that work.

Well researched, informative posts.

Your skeptical and scientific approach to vet and general medicine topics. I read many such blogs though.

The information based on facts and not just opinion and preference.

Links to supporting evidence and your overall grasp of evidence based medicine

skeptical approach

You bring to my attention issues and research I do not always come across in my own reading. The information is presented clearly and succinctly and is a great resource for those who have an interest but do not have the time to search out this research on their own. Being new to your blog, i find your categories list very helpful to browse entries on an area of specific interest. 

i like your opinions about alternative medicines…. helps me remember that there is rational discussion out there… all i have is irrational discussion at work…

6. What do you like least about SkeptVet?
The entries are very long, which makes it less likely that I read all entries as a whole in between other tasks. Esp for a non-native English speaker.

Hmm. Some of your posts detail-wrangle at great length in a way that’s beyond the attention span or interest of most people to whom I’d otherwise like to forward the fundamental information about animal care. I realize you may be writing in a tone intended to engage challenge other vets and researchers as one would in a scholarly journal, but I think of public blogs as general interest vs. pedantry-for-specialists, and lively, engaging science-writing – particularly re: animals and the gullible humans who love them, about whom few write – as a much-needed public service which needs to be welcoming to all, not just specialists. It’s a delicate balance, since both things you do with your writing here – and both audiences – are valuable. That’s the only criticism I can think of, though: I would like the info you’re sharing here to be as widely accessible as possible.

It won’t make any difference; many doctors and clients are more interested in ‘believing’ than in knowing 

A quick glance shows a lot of articles about homeopathy and acupuncture, two topics that I regard as dead issues.

More do not read it

USA centric

Sometimes over my head for the evening post-work funk.

too few new posts

Like every other blog that I enjoy, updates are not as frequent as I would prefer. Hesitant to call this a negative since you work on this in spare time and so I think any material that you produce is a good thing.

I wish I had more time to comment/ read comments (obviously not a problem with the blog itself)

Could use a bit of an overhaul visually. Maybe get a graphic’s designer to take a look.

Sometimes having to wait days for a new post!

At times you get a little wordy, I start skimming, but I also appreciate your thoroughness!

I don’t have time to read it enough! Also, a better search/tagging function to find info on a specific topic would be helpful.

It’s not updated enough.

I almost wish you’d post about a wider variety of topics, but I think that’s just me being greedy!

I do not feel that the layout is aesthetically pleasing, but that is hardly the purpose of the blog and not a deterrent from revisiting it 

nothing… maybe talk more about supplements? do you have any experience with exotics or zoology

General Suggestions
Splicing entries would work for me, making them shorter in different editions..

See my comment about the delicate balance between scholarly/professional vet & researcher audience vs. general interest/animal owner audience. I am never a fan of recommending “dumbing down” – so don’t do that. I wonder, though, if there’s a way to more clearly address each audience? A category of posts designed for animal owners seeking evidence-based information about caring for their critters, perhaps, in which you link to the related, more detailed posts and cite the research, but treat the post itself as a sort of summary of findings vs. a detailed, blow-by-blow of the whole research process? For example: you’ve posted info about glucosamine, which pretty much every vet in the world recommends, that all aging dog owners should be reading and at least evaluating for themselves. I’m a geek, and curious, and prioritize it, so I’ll happily wade through all the details. Most people won’t, but they need that information: in many situations, they’re sacrificing their own food budgets to pay for glucosamine supplements that don’t work. And of course, cancer treated with acupuncture or homeopathic remedies or whatever only illustrates the problem more painfully. You may not want to be primarily addressing the average pet-owner, which is fine – but no one is, really, except the woo-promoters, so I just wish you would, at least from time to time, in a very accessible way.

have more guest writers if you become too busy

I would be interested in guest posts, especially on large animal subjects.

I would love an in-depth review of a particularly good or bad veterinary study – but I know how time consuming those are! Also, I’m not sure whether they’d be good for most laypeople. I work in biological research and am equipped to critically read the science literature. 

I’m not sure. Just keep in mind that not all of us have Veterinarian training.

My personal interest is not only sceptic opinions about homeopathy but also the amount of support for conventional veterinary care

Common treatments (both woo/CAM recommendations that don’t work, and the evidence-based practices that do) for common problems with domestic/pet/working animals. Maybe also suggestions for effective strategies for talking with vets who are promoting woo/CAM – I wish there was a sort of database or even just fact sheets with research citations re: common health issues and the not-evidence-based recommendations vets often make, with research citations to point to further information.

Skeptics often keep emotions in check, although pet owners can sometimes benefit from hearing a well-respected vet state unequivocally, CAM is not all it’s “quacked up to be” and can actually harm your pet! Maybe a case study or two of failed CAM, I believe the British Veterinary Voodoo site might have one or two…

Topics to Cover
Always interested in arthritis information, pain treatment (especially non NSAIDS, such as tramadol and gabapenten, how effective are they?) Diabetes and chronic renal failure are also areas of personal interest, by necessity. 🙂

Lysine for presumed feline herpes is a topic that I’d like to see at least a brief expert review of. It seems to work, I’ve found a few suggestions that it’s supported, but (indifference + lack of expertise) I’m not sure if it’s woo, plausible or legitimate. Cat nutrition is another area where I have a huge amount of anecdote, plausible personal experience, but a paucity of convincing information.

Politics In the profession

I could read more about pet diets; there’re so many otherwise smart people who loose their minds when it comes to feeding their pet.

could do more equine/large animal pieces also more stuff on neutraceutical 

Flea and tick preventatives

Vaccination schedules for animals – I am 100% in favour of vaccinations but do wonder why my vet will give my horses a tetanus shot every two years while I have to plead with my GP to get one every 10 years when it’s the same disease and I’m at just as much risk as they are. Guest posts about the science behind equine veterinary medicine

More about pets and allergy treatments, as that is what affects my cat.

stem cell treatment

Reviews of the “alternative” pet products. For example, can a spray really clean a pet’s teeth?

As someone who is less conflicted about not using alternative therapies, I’d love to see some commonly used conventional therapies investigated.

As I am a breeder, I would be interested in breeding topics.

General Feedback
Thank you so much for what you do here. I appreciate the information you share, and have found it both useful and comforting – often in what feels like a wilderness of woo when it comes to caring well for a beloved dog who doesn’t care much about “belief” but does need actual, evidence-based health-care. I’m lucky to have pretty regular access to a great vet who’s very sensible, but I move around a fair bit for teaching gigs – and the vast majority of the vets I’ve had to bring my dog to in emergencies (or for check-ups while away from the good vet) are major, major woo-promoters operating with a sort of blithe ‘well, yes, it’s expensive and there’s no evidence to support efficacy, but if you love him, it might help and if you don’t do it, clearly you’re a bad person’ kind of attitude which I find reprehensible. I’m one of those people who will make whatever sacrifices are necessary to get together the money (and every other kind of investment) that is necessary for the well-being of my animal(s), but don’t have a ton of income as a peripatetic writer and visiting prof., and do have a ton of concern for doing what works, not doing what’s fashionable or ‘spiritual’ or imaginary. Even vets can do homeopathy, acupuncture, yoga, chanting, reiki, whatever on their own time and on their own bodies, I suppose, but keep it off my dog, you know? Anyway. It’s more than a peeve, it’s a major ethical failing in the whole profession, I believe – and your blog, as I said, is a voice of reason in the chaos. So write on, and thanks.

Just want to thank you for an excellent fact-filled blog that explores so many critical issues in vet med, particularly CAM. There are few resources for pet owners that are as factual with the CAM theme as skeptvet. I’m sure pet owners and colleagues alike can agree!

Glad to have found your site.

Good job

I think the blog is great I come by here nearly everyday! Thanks Skeptvet

No. Thanks for a great blog.

please don’t stop! we need you.

Just like to encourage you to keep up the good work! It’s very much appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this. I really enjoy this blog and look forward to reading it.

I do admire your elegant prose and the fact that you can insert a lot of humour into denunciations of silly therapies. Please don’t stop doing it.

Thank you for keeping it up; fighting misinformation is demanding. I have referred several people to your blog and I call it “the Orac of vet medicine.”

nice work!

Keep up the good work!

I just love how in-depth your posts are, I always feel I’m learning something from them. 

I find this is an excellent site and I can’t recommend it enough. I have particularly liked the nutrition posts.

Keep up the good work…it’s enjoyable, informative and I anxiously await your new posts!

Great, great, great resource for others!

like what you’re doing… thank you for taking the time to research and write rational discussions for these controversial topics…

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One Response to SkeptVet Survey Results

  1. v.t. says:

    I hope the results are some indication for you not to worry anymore, skeptvet. You’re doing an excellent, demanding, hard job, and you deserve kudos!

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