Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Awards Grant to University of Texas Health Science Center
Washington, D.C. (August 25, 2015) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced it has awarded a $6,000 grant to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Nursing for a pilot research study, Biobehavioral Effects of Therapy Dog Visitation in Elderly Intensive Care Unit Patients, to investigate how brief visits from therapy dogs can reduce stress in older intensive care unit (ICU) patients.
“Elderly patients who are admitted to the intensive care unit are at risk for anxiety that negatively affects physical health,” said primary researcher Sandra Branson, PhD, MSN, RN, Assistant Professor at the UTHealth School of Nursing. “Limited evidence suggests the effectiveness of therapy dog visits in improving these biological responses. We’re hoping this study will help fill the gap and potentially translate into regular practice in ICUs.”
Further exploring the effects of therapy dogs on stress in elderly ICU patients, the study aims to provide research-based evidence proving the efficacy of brief, 10-minute therapy dog visits in improving stress associated with being in an ICU. The 18-month study will observe two groups of 10 elderly participants in the ICU; one group will receive a 10-minute therapy dog visits at random and the other will receive usual care without the visits. Patients’ psychosocial, endocrine, and inflammatory responses will be measured immediately before and after the 10-minute care session and compared between the two groups.
It is predicted that participants who receive the therapy dog visits will show greater reductions in the measured responses. The results of this study could yield therapy dog visits as a regular, low-risk and low-cost treatment intervention for patients in the ICU.
“HABRI’s grant to UTHealth will help advance the science that demonstrates the benefits of companion animals for disease recovery and healthy aging,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “The deployment of therapy animals in hospital setting is a growing trend. We want as many people as possible to benefit from the healing power of the human-animal bond.”
A recently published report by The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America showed that 279 of 337 health care facilities surveyed (83%) permit animal-assisted activities. Additionally, a survey of 1,000 doctors* found that 69% had worked with animals in a hospital, medical center, or medical practice to assist patient therapy or treatment.
*2014 Study Conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation
The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; to date has funded more than half a million dollars in innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information about the HABRI Foundation, visit www.habri.org.
Established in 1972, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is Houston’s Health University and Texas’ resource for health care education, innovation, scientific discovery, and excellence in patient care. The most comprehensive academic health center in the UT System and U.S. Gulf Coast region, UTHealth is home to a number of specialty schools ranging from nursing and dentistry to biomedical sciences. The university’s primary teaching hospitals include Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. For more information, visit www.uth.edu.
More Press Releases
Survey Shows Health Benefits of Pets Linked to Improved Veterinary Care
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) today announced the findings of a new survey on how knowledge of the scientific benefits of the human-animal bond impacts the way pet owners care for their companion animals. The survey asked pet owners about their awareness of research that shows pets improve human health and found that this knowledge motivated them to take better care of their pets, including a significant, positive impact on veterinary care. “When educated about the scientific research on the human-animal bond, pet owners are more likely to take important measures to improve pet health and augment their relationship with their veterinarians,” said AAHA Chief Executive Officer, Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP (C/F). “AAHA-accredited animal hospitals continue to raise the standard for veterinary care across the country, and HABRI gives us another way to connect with pet owners to enhance that care.” When 2,000 pet owners were educated about the human health benefits of pet ownership: 92% said they were more likely to maintain a pet’s health, including keeping up with vaccines and preventive medicine 89% said they were more likely to maintain a pet’s health, including regular check-ups with a veterinarian 88% said they were more likely to provide a pet with higher quality nutrition 51% said they were more likely to purchase pet health insurance 62% said they were less likely to skip visits to the veterinarian 89% said they were more likely to take better care of a pet “When people find out that pets improve heart health, decrease stress, help alleviate depression and address specific conditions that include autism, PTSD and Alzheimer’s, they become more focused on caring for their pet’s health,” said HABRI Executive Director, Steven Feldman. “More awareness of human-animal bond science improves veterinary care and leads to a healthier pet population.” Veterinarians,...
World Pet Association Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced that the World Pet Association has made a $25,000 donation to help gather, fund and promote scientific research that demonstrates the human health benefits of pet ownership. “The World Pet Association’s commitment to researching the human-animal bond helps demonstrate the value of pets and the pet industry to society,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “Support and active participation from leaders like the World Pet Association is vital to advancing the science that demonstrates the positive roles they play in the integrated health of individuals, families and communities.” The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to demonstrate the health benefits of pets and other animals; informs the public about human-animal bond research; and advocates for public policies that support the beneficial role of pets in society. “WPA is pleased to be able to assist HABRI fulfill their mission of providing information about the benefits of pet ownership,” said Word Pet Association President Doug Poindexter. “Having these resources in one place and readily available is critical to the long term welfare of the industry.”
New Research to Investigate the Effect of Shelter Cat Adoption on Stress and Anxiety in Children with Autism
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $52,204 grant to the University of Missouri for a new study, Shelter Cat Adoption in Families of Children with Autism: Impact on Children’s Social Skills and Anxiety as well as Cat Stress. This study will examine the effect of the introduction of a shelter cat on social skills and anxiety in children with autism, and on stress levels for the cats themselves. “Preliminary research demonstrates the effectiveness of companion animal interaction on alleviating social skills deficits and anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Gretchen Carlisle, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri. “While many studies have focused on the impact of dogs on children with ASD, this study aims to determine the beneficial impacts of a pet cat on children with autism and their families, as the temperament and the ease of care for cats compared to other animals may increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for the children, the cats and the family as a whole.” In addition to HABRI’s grant award, the PIs have also received funding from the Winn Feline Foundation in the amount of $25,000. The combined funding from Winn Feline and HABRI have enabled the PIs to expand the sample size and add the support of a statistician, which will greatly enhance the power of the study and hopefully result in more definitive and robust findings. “Winn Feline Foundation is thrilled to have initially supported this important study on the human-cat bond and to hear of HABRI’s grant award. Their additional support will strengthen the study’s findings”, commented Winn’s Executive Director Dr. Vicki Thayer. “This significant project evaluating the effects and benefits of adoption of cats by children and families with ASD fits our mission and values”. Using a two-group, randomized, repeated measures design with a delayed treatment...