Developing a tool to assess the health-related quality of life in calves with respiratory disease: content validation

DJ Bell*, Belinda Vigors, C-A Duthie, David Bartram, Andrew Hancock, Isaac Odeyemi, Colin Penny, MJ Haskell

*Corresponding author for this work

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Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a major welfare and productivity issue for calves. Despite the extensive negative impacts on calf welfare and performance, BRD remains challenging to detect and treat effectively. However, the clinical signs of disease are only one aspect of the disease that is experienced by the individual. The assessment of emotional experience in animals is not straightforward, but it is increasingly recognised that the quality of behaviour and demeanour of an individual is a reflection of their internal emotional state. The aim of the present study was to complete the content validation stage of the development process for a health-related quality of life (HRQOL) tool. This was based around indicators from an existing conceptual framework containing twenty-three indicators in two domains (clinical signs and behavioural expression). The content validation stage involves engaging with key stakeholders. For this study, this took the form of a survey and discussions with focus groups, which are standard methods in this field. A survey and stakeholder focus groups were conducted to assess the usefulness of each indicator and its relevance for inclusion within a HRQOL tool. In the survey, participants were asked to rate the usefulness of each of the indicators using a 4-point scale which were then dichotomised into ‘useful’ and ‘less useful’. Based on the ‘useful’ result, each indicator within the domains was ranked. A similar approach was taken with the responses from the focus groups. Focus group participants were asked to select indicators that they felt were of use and the result of this was used to rank each of the indicators. The ranks of the indicators from both the survey and the focus groups along with the transcripts from the focus groups were used to determine the indicators from each domain to include within the HRQOL tool. Indicators within the clinical signs domain that were included were nasal discharge, cough, respiratory effort, ocular appearance (discharge and vibrancy), body and head posture and ear carriage. For the domain of behavioural expression, the indicators included were movement to feed, responsiveness, spatial proximity, volume of feed intake, motivation at feed and vigour. The next stage will be to validate the construction of the HRQOL tool through its use in practice. The inclusion of indicators that allow the experiential aspects of disease to be recorded in health assessments will likely increase the ability of farmers and others to detect respiratory disease in calves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100702
Issue number2
Early online date19 Dec 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - Feb 2023


  • Behavioural expression
  • Bovine
  • Clinical signs
  • Qualitative data
  • Respiratory disease
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Quality of Life
  • Cattle Diseases/diagnosis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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