Young children with known or suspected heart disease frequently have difficulty cooperating with a clinically ordered echocardiogram. While in most cases a variety of distraction techniques can be employed, in some cases sedation or anesthesia is necessary to obtain a complete echocardiogram of adequate quality for diagnosis. Current distraction techniques vary in efficacy, and may be time consuming to implement. There have been no studies examining the use of animal assisted therapy in this setting to improve echocardiogram quality and completeness, as well as the patient/parent experience.
1. The presence and interaction of therapy dogs with young children undergoing echocardiography in a clinical setting will result in more complete and higher quality echocardiograms compared to standard distraction techniques.
2. Parents will report higher visit satisfaction scores and greater exam comfort for their children for echocardiograms performed with the aid of canine assisted therapy compared to use of standard distraction techniques.
150 subjects will be selected from all children ages 1 to 5 years presenting for clinically ordered echocardiograms during the study time period. Subjects will be assigned into one of three groups: 1) Canine assisted therapy only; 2) Canine assisted therapy plus standard distraction techniques; and 3) Standard distraction techniques only. Echocardiography reviewers will be blinded to subject study group and will assign quality and completeness score based on validated criteria. Parental satisfaction will be assessed using validated survey tools.
Inclusion of animal assisted therapy will result in a 10% improvement in measured quality and completeness of echocardiograms, and a 10% higher patient/parent satisfaction scores with the echocardiography experience. This research will potentially add additional non-pharmacologic (i.e.: sedation/anesthesia) options to improve diagnostic quality, reduce risk of diagnostic errors and improve patient comfort/satisfaction for children having medical imaging procedures. These results could then be expanded to other areas of Pediatric medical testing in other specialties.