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Title: The epidemiology of equine recurrent colic and horse-owners' lay beliefs and practices regarding colic management and prevention
Author: Scantlebury, Claire Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 8781
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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Reasons for performing study: Colic occurs frequently within the equine population and is a high priority health concern of horse-owners. Recurrent colic is anecdotally common however; no previous studies have investigated the epidemiology of recurrent colic in UK leisure horses. Many potentially alterable risk factors have been identified that may reduce the incidence of colic. In depth research into the role that horse-owners perceptions and practices may have upon adoption of colic management and prevention strategies is lacking. Objectives: To investigate the incidence of and risk factors for recurrent colic and to investigate the role that horse-owners perceptions and practices may have upon colic management and prevention strategies. Methods: To investigate recurrent colic, a prospective-cohort comprising 127 horses were recruited subsequent to an episode of medical colic diagnosed by a veterinary surgeon, and data were collected over one year via telephone questionnaires to record health prophylaxis, management and behavioural variables hypothesised to be associated with recurrent colic. Baseline data were analysed using a multivariable logistic regression model to assess non time-varying risk factors associated with recurrence. To analyse the effect of time- varying and non time-varying variables, data from fifty-nine episodes of recurrent colic contributed case exposure data and 177 unmatched controls were randomly selected from the remaining horse time at risk in a nested case-control study design. A further two studies contributed to the thesis objectives. The first, a qualitative, in-depth interview-based study, of 15 horse-owners with varying colic experience was analysed using a grounded theory methodology. The findings informed the design of a cross-sectional survey mailed to 1000 randomly selected horse-owners in North-West UK. Questionnaire items included; colic experience, health priorities, beliefs of signs and causes of colic, sources of information, attitudes towards colic management and prevention and the human-horse relationship. A cluster analysis examined owner typology groups based upon their responses to the human- horse relationship items. Associations between; owner typology and management of colic and, owner experience of colic and attitudes to colic prevention were investigated. Results: The incidence of recurrence was high (50 colic events/lOO horse years-at-risk) and associated risk included; having a known dental problem and displaying crib-biting/windsucking (CBWS) behaviour. In the nested case-control study, a multivariable logistic regression model found that horses displaying CBWS or weaving behaviours, with reduced time spent at pasture and fed probiotics had an increased risk of recurrent colic. Feeding fruit/vegetables was associated with a decreased risk which interacted with the risk of recurrence among horses that displayed CBWS behaviour. The qualitative study generated two theoretical models describing; 1) horse- owners actions while managing a colic event (including 3 main responses 'wait and see', 'lay treatment' and 'seek veterinary assistance') and, 2) promoters and barriers involved in adopting intervention strategies to prevent colic. The cross-sectional survey yielded 673 questionnaires (70.8% useable response rate). Owner groups differed in their management of colic and health conditions they had experience of and attempted to prevent. Colic experience had a Significant effect on attitudes towards prevention. Conclusions and potential relevance: This thesis provides novel information on the epidemiology of recurrent colic which may contribute to the development of intervention strategies to reduce colic incidence. Owners experience and understanding of the causes of colic plays a role in promoting prevention activities and seeking veterinary advice. The findings improve veterinary understanding of lay beliefs surrounding colic and the client experience, and will be of use in the design of appropriately targeted colic prevention advice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available