165088 A phenomenological study of adult cancer patients and therapy dogs in a clinical setting

Monday, November 5, 2007

Deborah Cameron, MPH , Health Science Department, Armstrong Atlantic State University, savannah, GA
David Adams, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Sciences, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA
L.E. (Leigh) Rich, PhD , Department of Health Sciences, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA
Jennifer Currin, LMSW , Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute, Memorial Health University Medical Center, savannah, GA
A growing body of research has begun to address the question of therapy pets in medical settings. The therapeutic use of pets has been credited with health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and heart rate, reduced stress, enhanced psychological well-being, and even increased muscular strength and mobility (Brodie & Biley, 1999; Brodie, Biley, & Shewring, 2002; Cole, et al., 2000; Connor & Miller, 2000a, 2000b; Hibell, 1987; Kahn & Farrag, 2000; Stanley-Hermanns & Miller, 2002). Three categories of pet-associated hazards present reasonable cause for caution in pet therapy programs. Animal bites, hypersensitivity to pet dander, and the transmission of z÷onoses from animal to human are considered the highest risks associated with AAT (Brodie, et al., 2002; Donowitz, 2002; Khan & Farrag, 2000; Schantz, 1990). As the use of therapy dogs increases in clinical settings, the issue of z÷onotic disease transmission grows more significant. The purpose of the study was two-fold: First the study involved investigating the perspectives of adult cancer patients concerning the psychosocial benefits of animal assisted therapy through semi-structured interviews with the patients. Secondly, through participant observation, the study considered the potential z÷onotic disease risks of therapy dogs used in a clinical healthcare setting at The Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health University Medical Center. On a final note, a key question was considered: Does the potential psychosocial benefits of pet therapy outweigh the potential z÷onotic disease risks?

Learning Objectives:
1. Presenter will describe the use of therapy dogs in a clinical setting and discuss the need for rigorous therapy dog protocals. 2. Learners will understand the use of therapy dogs in a clinical setting. 3. The learners will be able to develop patient surveys to evaluate therapy dogs programs and identify benefits of the program to the patients.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.