HABRI-Funded Study Shows Importance of the Human-Animal Bond for MDs
Washington, D.C. (October 16, 2017) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), The University of Toronto, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan announced the publication of a study exploring whether Primary Healthcare Professionals asking their patients about the pets in the family would positively impact communication to gather clinically relevant information and improve patient care.
“Results of our survey show that asking about pets in the family is an easy and effective way to build trust with a patient, strengthening the patient-provider therapeutic alliance,” said Kate Hodgson, DVM, MHSc, CCMEP, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. “When healthcare providers learn about the pets in patients’ lives, they are also developing an understanding about specific aspects of their patients’ environment and social history that can improve the delivery of healthcare.”
“Having an exam-room conversation about companion animals helps healthcare providers learn important information about patients’ lifestyle and home life which can positively influence the way they evaluate and treat their patients,” said Alan Monavvari, MD, Chief of Family Medicine, MHSc, CCFP, CHE, CPHQ, at Markham Stouffville Hospital.
Dr. Hodgson and Dr. Monavvari, along with co-authors Marcia Darling, BSc and Dr. Douglas Freeman, DVM, PhD, DipACT, analyzed results of a baseline and follow-up survey of 225 healthcare professionals asking about prevalence of patients living with pets, the health impact of pets, and influences on patient communication. Results revealed that patients are more open to talking to their healthcare providers about their pets, revealing clinically relevant information about how they live. Baseline and final surveys measured awareness of pets in patients’ families, assessment of determinants of health, impact on rapport with patients, and patient care. A sign test assessed difference in scores using repeated-measures analysis. Findings demonstrated that asking about pets strengthens the patient-provider relationship and therapeutic alliance. Knowing about pets in patients’ families influences the available approaches to care and enables providers to incorporate the pet into patient management plans. For example, learning about dog ownership can lead physicians to encourage dog walking for increased physical activity. All participants in the survey had patients with pets, and all patients responded without objection.
“Scientific research demonstrates that the human-animal bond helps reduce blood pressure, relieve stress, and increase physical activity,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “With the results of the Asking About Pets study, we know that pets benefit the medical profession by empowering doctors to activate pets as an existing health resource in the family to take better care of us!”
Kate Hodgson, DVM, MHSc, CCMEP, Marcia Darling, BSc(Hons), Douglas Freeman, DVM, PhD, DipACT, Alan Monavvari, MD, MHSc, CCFP, CHE, CPHQ. “Asking About Pets Enhances Patient Communication and Care: A Pilot Study” INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing 54 (2017). Web. 6 October 2017. https://doi.org/10.1177/0046958017734030.
HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that 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, please visit www.habri.org.
About Markham Stouffville Hospital
Markham Stouffville Hospital is a progressive, two-site, community hospital with 275 beds, leading diagnostic services and clinical programs in acute care medicine and surgery, addictions and mental health, and childbirth and children’s services. Partnering with other specialist providers, the hospital’s 450 physicians, 2,100 staff, and 1,300 volunteers make it the centre of community care for the residents of the City of Markham and the Towns of Stouffville and Uxbridge.
More Press Releases
New Research to Investigate Impact of Pets on Social Functioning in Children with ADHD
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a grant to GITAM (Deemed) University for a new study which will investigate the impact of pet ownership and human-animal interaction (HAI) on overall social functioning including social attention in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This study aims to fill a critical gap in the current literature by uncovering the potential benefits of HAI on core deficit areas in ADHD. “This project brings together an international team of experts to undertake a comprehensive examination of social attention and emotion processing in neurotypical children and children living with ADHD,” said Dr. Georgitta Valiyamattam, GITAM University, the study’s Principal Investigator. “We hope to answer a key question – do foundational social skills in ADHD have the potential to be impacted by animal-assisted interventions? This knowledge will provide the necessary groundwork for future research and practice, which we hope will improve treatment and quality of life for children living with ADHD.” Along with Dr. Valiyamattam, the team comprises Dr. Harish Katti, Dr. Jessica Taubert, Dr. Vinay Chaganti and Dr. Virender Sachdeva. A substantial body of research describes social attention and emotional recognition deficits to human faces in ADHD. This project will study the impact of pet ownership on children with ADHD to determine whether HAI may enhance social attention and emotional recognition and modulate overall social functioning. State-of-the-art eye tracking technology and rigorous statistical approaches will be deployed to compare attention towards human and nonhuman faces. Researchers will also investigate the recognition of facial expressions. The research team anticipates that children with ADHD will show greater attention and emotion recognition capabilities for animal faces as compared to human faces. The focus on uncovering the visual mechanisms regarding HAI may also...
New Study to Examine Social, Behavioral and Academic Effects of Pets in the Classroom
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) and the Pet Care Trust announced today they had awarded a combined $130,000 grant to American Humane, for a study titled, Pets in the Classroom (PIC): What are the Social, Behavioral, and Academic Effects of Classroom Pets for Children, 8-10 years? It is hypothesized that students with a classroom pet will experience increased social skills, improved academic competence and decreased competing problem behaviors compared to students who do not have a classroom pet. “Animals are common in today’s elementary school classrooms, and we are learning more and more about their positive impact on child well-being and development,” said principal investigator Dr. Amy McCullough, American Humane National Director of Research and Therapy. “This study will provide meaningful insight on the broad impact of child and animal relationships and help prepare schools and teachers with the responsibilities necessary to support the humane and effective incorporation of pets in classrooms and curricula.” The first phase of the PIC Study concluded in May 2015 and was supported by The Pet Care Trust, which operates the popular Pets in the Classroom grant program. The first phase consisted of surveying and interviewing teachers on their perspectives regarding the main benefits, challenges and uses of their classroom pets, which ranged from fish to guinea pigs, hamsters, bearded dragons, and others. This second phase of the study will examine approximately 650 students and parents, as well as 46 teachers from 23 U.S. third and fourth grade classrooms over the course of a nine-month school year. Students, teachers, and parents will complete questionnaires at three times throughout the study period to measure the social, behavioral, and academic effects of classroom pets and human-animal relationships on children. “The Pet Care Trust established the Pets in the Classroom educational grant program to provide children with an opportunity...
New Research to Study Impacts of Pet Ownership on Healthy Aging in Healthcare and Social Service Settings
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a grant to the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging for a new study, Uncovering Pet Ownership Benefits, Challenges, and Resources in an Aging Society: Promoting Healthy Aging in Healthcare and Community Environments. This study aims to identity pet ownership issues raised in healthcare and social service settings by older adults and their caregivers. “Addressing the topic of pet ownership can promote honest and productive communication, uncovering risks and benefits to patients’ health,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Jessica Bibbo, PhD, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. “We expect the results of this systematic investigation will elevate pet ownership issues from anecdotal professional experiences to recognized factors that shape the values and preferences of older adults, people living with dementia, and caregivers.” This study will survey a large interdisciplinary sample of professionals working with older adults, people living with dementia and caregivers about pet ownership. The researchers aim to complete three objectives as part of this comprehensive study: The first will be to identify the prevalence of pet ownership issues encountered among an extensive inter-professional sample of health care and social service organization professionals working directly with older adults and their caregivers. The second will be to identify specific benefits, challenges and resources provided by pet ownership and the human-animal bond encountered by professionals working with older adults and their caregivers. Finally, researchers will apply these results to create and disseminate information to health care and social service professionals on the benefits, challenges, and resources provided by pet ownership and the human-animal bond to promote the healthy aging of older adults and their caregivers. “The desire to experience the human-animal bond does not end with a diagnosis of dementia,”...