Making the Case for Multi-Axis Assessment of Behavioural Problems

Fatjó, J and Bowen, J (2020) Making the Case for Multi-Axis Assessment of Behavioural Problems. Animals, 10 (3).

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Abstract

The systematic classification of human mental health disorders and behavioural problems in companion animals face the same challenges. These disorders and problems are complex, multi-factorial, and can interfere with the individual’s ability to function within society, a social or family environment. Classification systems are reductive, they discard a lot of critical information, and can be overly focused on the presenting problem, inflexible and obstructive to new research. As a result, human psychiatry is moving away from classification systems and toward a clinical and research model based on dimensional characteristics that encompass the full range from normal to abnormal, and include multiple sources of influence from genetic, to environmental and psychosocial. In this paper, we set out a multi-axis model for the collection and organisation of information about companion animal behaviour problem cases that avoids some of the limitations of classification systems, is aligned with the current research approach in human psychiatry, and assists the clinician in making a complete and thorough assessment of a case.

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