Diagnosis before treatment: Identifying dairy farmers' determinants for the adoption of sustainable practices in gastrointestinal nematode control.Vet Parasitol. 2015 Sep 15; 212(3-4):308-17.VP
Anthelmintic resistance is emerging in dairy cattle and this can result in a lack of effective control and production losses. Therefore, sustainable control strategies, such as targeted treatments (TT) and targeted selected treatments (TST), should be adopted by the industry. TT and TST approaches require the use of diagnostic methods to take informed treatment decisions. To understand the factors affecting the farmers' intention to adopt diagnostic methods before implementing anthelmintic drugs ('adoption intention'), a cross-sectional survey was carried out in dairy farms in Belgium (Flanders). A framework was constructed to predict adoption intentions based on two fundamental theories in the field of behavioural psychology and health psychology: the Theory of Planned Behaviour and the Health Belief Model. In the tested model, adoption intentions were predicted based on attitudes towards anthelminthics, attitudes towards diagnostic methods, subjective norms, behavioural control and perceived risk. Structural equation modelling was used for analyses. The model fitted the data well and explained 46% of the variance in adoption intention of diagnostics. The factors 'attitude towards diagnostic methods' and 'subjective norm'; i.e. the influence of significant others, had the strongest, positive influence on adoption intention of diagnostic methods. 'Perceived behavioural control' had a weak, positive effect on intention. Further, 'attitude towards the use of anthelmintic drugs' had a negative effect on adoption intention of the diagnostic methods. This implicates an effect of current behaviour on future adoption, which should be considered in future research. Factors measuring risk perception of anthelmintic resistance; perceived severity and perceived susceptibility, had no effect on the adoption intention of diagnostic methods. The threat of anthelmintic resistance is perceived to be low for dairy herds. The study further did not find any differences in the effects of the predictors for young stock and adult dairy cows. The results of this study can be used to develop communication strategies to advertise sustainable nematode control on dairy farms.