Level of agreement in the recognition of pain among equine practitioners in Chile

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Daniela Luna-Fernández
José Manuel Yañez-López
Tamara Alejandra Tadich-Gallo


Pain is a relevant component of animal welfare, and its appropriate recognition is essential for the establishment of effective analgesic therapy. The aim of this study was to determine the level of agreement in the recognition of pain in equines among veterinarians (equine practitioners). The effects of gender and age on pain recognition were also studied. The equine practitioners were asked to use a simple descriptive scale to score 25 digital color photographs of horses experiencing different painful conditions. The kappa coefficient for multiple raters was used to determine the degree of agreement. Descriptive statistics was used to estimate the severity of the pain, and the Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric test was used to determine the effect of the rater’s gender and age. Thirty-four equine practitioners replied to the questionnaire. A poor level of agreement between equine practitioners was found (global kappa = 0.2871, CI 95% = 0.2032-0.3702); the agreement was stronger for those painful conditions with higher scores (maximum pain). No significant differences (P > 0.05) were found for pain scoring in relation to the practitioner’s age and gender. This study is the first in Chile to explore the level of agreement in the recognition of pain in equines. It emphasizes the poor level of agreement between equine practitioners in the recognition of pain, which could compromise the establishment of appropriate analgesic treatments and result in poor animal welfare. Further studies are required to determine and promote understanding of the factors affecting veterinarians’attitudes towards the recognition and management of pain in equine species.


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