Invited review: Examining farmers' personalities and attitudes as possible risk factors for dairy cattle health, welfare, productivity, and farm management : a systematic scoping review
We aimed to determine how research regarding farmers' personalities and attitudes as risk factors is reported (methodological approaches to assessing, extracting, and processing data and analyzing risk factors) and to explore evidence for the effect of farmers' attitudes and personalities on dairy cattle health, welfare, productivity, and management. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review of studies on personality and attitude as risk factors for dairy cattle health, welfare, productivity, and farm management. Database searches captured 1,144 records, and 38 were finally included in the review. Thirty-three manuscripts assessed farmers' attitudes, 1 assessed their personalities, and 4 assessed both as risk factors. These potential risk factors were checked for relationships with more than 50 different outcome variables regarding farm management (17 manuscripts), animal health (13 manuscripts), animal productivity (11 manuscripts), and animal welfare (4 manuscripts). The approaches to assessing risk factors and processing and interpreting data varied greatly; thus, drawing conclusions regarding the effects of attitude and personality as risk factors is impeded because manuscripts are difficult to compare. Our findings highlight the need for harmonization of attitudes and personality assessments in future research. Furthermore, researchers should carefully consider which depth of detail to apply when planning and evaluating related research. Nevertheless, results highlight the importance of the effect of personality and attitude on outcomes. Farmers' personality and attitudes are associated with dairy cattle health, welfare, productivity, and management. In general, attitudes indicating higher degrees of technical knowledge, affection with problems, perceived responsibility, perception of control of a situation, a better human-animal relationship, or a positive evaluation of the benefits of management decisions tended to affect outcomes in a beneficial way. "Agreeableness" and "conscientiousness" were shown to promote better farm performance, whereas "neuroticism" had a negative effect. Therefore, further research on attitude and personality and their consideration by professionals and decision-makers within the dairy sector and politics is strongly recommended. This might provide the chance to better understand the needs of dairy farmers and therefore develop tailored advice and support strategies to improve both satisfactory and constructive cooperation.
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