Washington, D.C. (October 25, 2016) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $44,000 grant to Duke University School of Medicine’s Division of Pediatric Cardiology for a new research study titled Impact of Animal Assisted Therapy on Quality, Completeness, and Patient and Parental Satisfaction in Children Undergoing Clinical Echocardiography.
This study will examine the influence of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) on young children undergoing an echocardiogram. It is hypothesized that children will have a more complete and higher quality echocardiogram in the presence of therapy dogs. In addition, parents are expected to report higher visit satisfaction scores and greater exam comfort for their children.
“Echocardiography is an effective way to use ultrasound to ‘see’ inside the heart, and while taking the pictures is non-invasive, it can still be a scary procedure for young children,” said the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Piers C.A. Barker, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Duke University School of Medicine. “Typically, we must sedate children who have trouble holding still so that we can get adequate pictures. This study aims to evaluate whether animal-assisted therapy could serve as an effective alternative technique to comfort the children and put them at ease, potentially resulting in more complete echocardiograms, higher quality images, and avoidance of sedation drugs.”
“We know from previous scientific research that animal-assisted therapy is effective in alleviating anxiety in hospital patients,” said co-investigator, Margaret Gruen, DVM, PhD, DACVB of Duke. “This is one of the first studies to focus on the potential of animal-assisted therapy to impact a clinical outcome. If results are successful, this study could potentially add non-pharmacologic, low-cost options to improve diagnostic quality for children having medical imaging procedures and could encourage broader use of therapy dogs in other pediatric cardiology settings.”
The two-and-a-half-year project is a collaboration between Duke’s Division of Pediatric Cardiology and the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The team has partnered with the Pets@Duke program, which certifies therapy dogs to interact with patients throughout Duke University Health System hospitals.
The study will examine 150 children between the ages of 1 and 5 and randomly assign them to a group: canine-assisted therapy only; canine-assisted therapy plus standard distraction techniques; and standard distraction techniques only. Dr. Barker – along with co-investigators Bruce W. Keene, DVM, MSc, DACVIM of NC State, Michael J. Campbell, MD of Duke and Margaret Gruen, DVM, PhD, DACVB of Duke – will evaluate quality, completeness and parental satisfaction of echocardiograms among the three groups, as well as reduction of stress or fear among the children.
The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds 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, please visit www.habri.org.
More Press Releases
Pet Partners Commits $100K to Support Therapy Animal Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Pet Partners, the nation’s leading organization in animal assisted interventions, will donate $100,000 to fund research on the health, education, and wellness outcomes of therapy animals, for both the people and animals involved. This announcement is a supplement to HABRI’s 2019 Request for Proposals, open now through February 7, 2019. “Pet Partners recognizes the importance of developing scientific findings that further demonstrate the benefits to health and well-being associated with the human-animal bond,” said Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “Together, Pet Partners and HABRI will expand our knowledge, allowing more people to experience the benefits of high-quality therapy animal programs.” In order to be eligible for this funding, investigators must incorporate registered Pet Partners volunteer therapy animal teams into their proposed research. As part of the organization’s registration process, all Pet Partners therapy animal teams must meet high standards in the areas of patient and public safety and outstanding animal welfare. “Pet Partners programs are the gold standard for animal-assisted interventions, which will lend themselves to greater consistency and accuracy for research purposes,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI Executive Director. “We are grateful to Pet Partners for their leadership, generosity, and commitment to high standards.” In addition to funding provided by Pet Partners, researchers can apply for other HABRI grants to investigate the health and wellness outcomes of pet ownership and animal-assisted activity. Proposals should have a strong theoretical framework and take an innovative approach to assess the effect of companion animals on humans within the categories of child health and development, healthy aging and mental and physical wellness. For more information on HABRI funding opportunities and the award application process, please visit...
New Research to Study Effects of Dogs on Children’s Stress
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $26,000 grant to Yale University for a new study, Interactions with Animals to Reduce Children’s Stress. The study will examine the effects of interactions with dogs on children dealing with stress and anxiety. “I am keenly interested in improving the quality of life among those who are experiencing stress, strains, and challenges of everyday functioning,” said the study’s primary researcher, Dr. Alan Kazdin, professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University, Ph.D, ABPP. “I am hoping to identify ways in which animal-child interaction can reduce stress and, furthermore, wish to understand precisely how that works, how the interaction can be optimized, and how it might translate to what’s being done in animal-assisted interventions and also in everyday life.” The two-year laboratory-based experiment on behalf of Yale University’s Department of Psychology will examine 73 children between the ages of 8 and 13 and randomly assign them support from a dog, support from an object, or no support. Researchers will then employ a series of tests and compare the stress levels in each group. “HABRI is committed to improving child health and development through the power of the human-animal bond,” said HABRI Executive Director Steve Feldman. “This study has the potential to provide necessary evidence on the specific benefits of human-animal interaction to children’s mental health.”
New Research to Study Impact of Therapy Dog-Assisted Forensic Interviews with Children
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Pet Partners announced today a grant to the University of Toledo for a new study, Implementation of Canine-Assisted Forensic Interviews with Children. This lab-based study will examine the effect of the presence of a therapy dog on the quantity and quality of children’s event reports. “From countless anecdotal evidence, we know that a visit from a registered Pet Partners therapy dog can put a smile on a child’s face, no matter what they are going through,” said Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “Scientific research to validate the efficacy of therapy dogs in forensic interviewing has the potential to not only provide more children with much needed comfort and emotional support, but to also promote justice for such a vulnerable population.” “The overarching goal of the study is to provide evidence-based guidelines regarding how and when to incorporate therapy dogs in legal settings,” said the study’s principal investigator, Kamala London, PhD, University of Toledo. “We expect that this study will help support therapy dog-assisted forensic interviews as a safe, affordable, and widely available technique that may improve the accuracy and quality of event reports among maltreated children.” Only about 15% of all child maltreatment cases come to the attention of authorities. Among cases that do come forward, children may be reluctant to disclose traumatic experiences, particularly when those experiences involve family member perpetrators. Over the past decade, forensic and legal professionals have begun to incorporate dogs into their practices in an effort to build rapport and trust, and foster a warm, supportive environment for children. Despite the increase in practice, the effects of therapy dog-assisted forensic interviews have not been studied. This study will work to address this identified gap in human-animal interaction (HAI) research. 120 children age 6-9 will experience a...