Online Program

Riding Free Pilot Study, an Equine Therapy Program for Children Diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Analysis of the PedsQL and Parent Report of Post-traumatic Symptoms (PROPS)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dene Mitchell, MPH, CCRP, Global Public Health, Arcadia University, Glenside, PA
Andrea Crivelli-Kovach, PhD, Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Arcadia University, Glenside, PA
Background: Research shows animal assisted therapy and equine therapy are beneficial when used with children exhibiting behavioral and anxiety disorders, including PTSD. However, there remains a gap in empirical research that uses precise measures with prevalidated scales to quantify program outcomes.

Purpose: The research program, Riding Free equine therapy, was developed by the author for individuals diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The research goals were to improve quality of life and lower PTSD symptoms in children who completed the program. The study purpose was to assess the program outcomes and fill research gaps.

Methods: The program consisted of twelve, objective-driven, sessions to improve social skills, self-confidence, and self-efficacy. Pre-validated questionnaires were used to specifically measure quality of life (PedsQL) and PTSD symptoms (Parent Report of Post-traumatic Symptoms (PROPS)). Data was used from the first 10 children to complete the program. Differences in the pre-test and post-test averages were evaluated. Arcadia University IRB approved the study.

Findings: The average PROPS score showed a 32.35% decrease in PTSD symptoms. The average PedsQL scores showed an increase in quality of life by 2.01%.

Implications: Data supported that completion of the Riding Free program lead to an increased quality of life and a decrease in PTSD symptoms. Both research goals were met and the study adds to empirical research in equine therapy, using precise outcome measures and prevalidated scales. Studies using larger samples are needed to further support the program.

Acknowledgments: This research was made possible by Christine Hanebury and Sebastian Riding Associates.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the outcome of completing the Riding Free program in children with PTSD. Analyze results of pre and post test questionnaires, research in children with PTSD. Describe results.

Keyword(s): Behavioral Research, Child/Adolescent Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: The Riding Free program was developed as an MPH thesis project. Now, years after I graduated, I am directing the full program and research at on a volunteer basis. My full time work is in research program management at leading oncology non-profit organization. Peer review presentations include a poster presentation at the College of Physicians and a 1 hour presentation at the Professional Association of Therapuetic Riding international conference.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.