Pilot Study of the Effects of Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI) on Quality of Life in Children with Life-Threatening Conditions and their Parents | HABRI

Pilot Study of the Effects of Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI) on Quality of Life in Children with Life-Threatening Conditions and their Parents

Principal Investigator

Mary Jo Gilmer, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN (Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University)

Rationale

Preliminary data with canine interactions show strong promise to improve psychosocial outcomes for hospitalized children. It is crucial now to move the science forward with a rigorous study design to examine canine therapy with children with a life-threatening condition (LTC) to determine variables contributing to best outcomes with regard to patient and family well-being and quality of life (QoL) in the face of a LTC.

Objective

Objective 1: Examine feasibility of AAI sessions for children with a LTC and primary caregiver to: a) identify and document modifications for a safe and feasible intervention, b) obtain recruitment estimates and determine potential recruitment barriers, c) evaluate elements of implementation fidelity (design, training, delivery/receipt of treatment, enactment), and d) verify safety.

Objective 2: Determine the preliminary efficacy of AAI sessions for 1) children with a LTC for the outcome of health-related quality of life (HRQoL), 2) primary caregivers of children with a LTC for the outcomes of stress and anxiety.

Hypothesis

H1-1: Children and parents (>60%) will complete the interventions and provide positive acceptability data.

H1-2: Implementation fidelity can be achieved with the proposed methodology.

H2-1: Children with a LTC who receive AAI will experience improved HRQoL more than patients who do not receive AAI.

H2-2: Children with LTC who receive AAI will have improved health-related quality of life (HRQOL) more than patients who do not receive AAI.

H2-3: Primary caregivers of children with a LTC who receive AAI will experience decreased stress and anxiety more than parents of children who do not receive AAI.

Expected Results

Unlike much of the existing research in the human-animal interaction field, this carefully designed study will benefit from expertise of a multi-disciplinary team, a randomized control cohort, reliable established measures, and will assess outcomes in this vulnerable population.

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