Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Announces Results of First Research Project
Washington, D.C. (September 21, 2015) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced the publication of a systematic literature review on Animal-Assisted Intervention (AAI) for trauma in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. The findings demonstrated that the animals helped ease anxiety, reduce depression, and mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
This is the first published study of more than a dozen HABRI-funded research projects examining the effects of companion animals on human health. Marguerite E. O’Haire, PhD, of Purdue University, systematically collected and critically assessed current research from a variety of electronic databases, including HABRI Central, on AAI for trauma in order to more closely look at the empirical data that evaluates the practice of animal inclusion in psychological treatment. Participants in the studies were predominantly survivors of child abuse, followed by military veterans. The most common animals included in treatment were dogs and horses.
“We conclude that AAI may provide promise as a complementary treatment option for trauma, but that further research is essential to establish feasibility, efficacy and manualizable protocols,” said Dr. O’Haire.
The study researched current evidence that suggests animals may provide unique elements to address several PTSD symptoms. For example, people with PTSD often experience emotional numbing, yet the presence of an animal has been reported to elicit positive emotions and warmth. Animals have also been demonstrated as social facilitators that can connect people and reduce loneliness, which may assist individuals with PTSD break out of isolation and connect to the humans around them.
“Based on Dr. O’Haire’s work, HABRI has further evidence that AAI can positively affect depression, anxiety, social outcomes, sleep, child functioning and quality of life,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “With this important study as a roadmap, HABRI has committed funding for a study of the impact of service animals for post-September 11th war veterans and for a study on equine therapy for survivors of domestic violence.”
Founded by Petco, Zoetis, and the American Pet Products Association and supported by a growing number of organizations, 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.
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New Research to Study Effects of Service Dogs on Post 9-11 War Veterans with PTSD
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced it has awarded a $42,000 grant to Purdue University to lead a first-of-its-kind, controlled scientific study to measure the effects of service dogs on post 9-11 war veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Participants in the K9s For Warriors program, a nonprofit organization pairing war veterans with service dogs, will take part in the study. “While numerous studies have confirmed that companion animals help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has cited a lack of specific scientific evidence on the effectiveness of service animals for war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “We are committed to addressing this gap in peer-reviewed science so that every veteran who needs a service animal can get one.” PTSD is a prevalent and debilitating disorder that, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, affects nearly 20 percent of post 9-11 war veterans. Typically triggered by intense events and situations, symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts. To explore the effect of service dogs on war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI, the Purdue-led study will monitor the health and wellness of the K9s For Warriors participants including medical, physiological, and self-perception indicators. It is hypothesized that the veterans who have service dogs will demonstrate better health and wellness compared to those receiving other treatment services while on the waitlist for a service dog. “While there are existing PTSD treatments available for veterans, a number of them have limited effectiveness and high drop-out rates,” said Marguerite O’Haire, PhD, Purdue University. “This controlled research study will document the impact of service dogs on veterans, which may provide an effective addition...
IDEXX Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “IDEXX is proud to support HABRI and its mission to advance human-animal bond research,” said Jonathan Ayers, Chairman and CEO of IDEXX Laboratories. “IDEXX is committed to enhancing the health and well-being of pets and people alike by bringing to market the most advanced diagnostics and software in veterinary medicine. When we provide high quality care for pets, human health also benefits.” “IDEXX is an innovative leader in pet health,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “By supporting HABRI, IDEXX is demonstrating its dedication to the human-animal bond and to keeping pets and people healthy together.” Scientific evidence increasingly shows that pets improve heart health; alleviate depression; increase well-being; support child health and development; and contribute to healthy aging. In addition, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. The benefits of the human-animal bond impact more than just human health. Findings from a recent HABRI survey of 2,000 pet owners demonstrate that knowledge of the scientific research on the human-animal bond motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets. From providing pets with higher quality nutrition to more frequent visits to the veterinarian, spreading awareness of the health benefits of pet ownership improves pet health and welfare.
New Research to Study Impact of Therapy Dogs On Stress and Academic Performance in Children with Autism
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $33,717 grant to the Texas Tech University for a new study, Integration of AAI and Applied Behavior Analysis to Improve Academic Performance in Children with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability (IDD). This study will examine the effect of an integrated animal-assisted intervention (AAI) in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) on children’s academic performance and physiological stress. “The goal of this study is to determine if interaction with a therapy dog during an ABA-based intervention results in improved academic response and a decrease in child stress levels,” said the study’s principal investigator, Alexandra Protopopova, PhD, Texas Tech University. “The results of this study may provide support for incorporating animals into ABA-based therapy, a bridging of two beneficial therapies for individuals with ASD/IDD that could result in the emergence of advancements in behavioral science.” The one-year, single-subject designed study will examine 6 children between the ages of 4 and 13 with ASD/IDD. The unique, within-subject design will use the 6 participants to address each aim of the study. Dr. Protopopova, Assistant Professor of Animal and Food Sciences and co-investigator Breanna N. Harris, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of the Department of Biological Sciences, will expose each child to 5 conditions, 5 times each in a random sequence and will measure on-task behavior and collect saliva for measurement of cortisol levels. The investigators will then compare each condition on an individual basis. It is expected that when provided with a therapy dog during the ABA-based intervention, the children will have significantly lower stress and that the dogs will be a more potent and durable reward for children, resulting in educational improvements. “Scientific research, including results of previous HABRI-funded studies, has shown that therapy dogs can have a positive...