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 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...
Nationwide Becomes Human-Animal Bond Certified Company
The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), joint founders of the Human-Animal Bond Certification program, announced today that Nationwide, the first and largest provider of pet health insurance in the U.S., has become a Human-Animal Bond Certified Company. “Nationwide has earned this meaningful recognition through its significant commitment to human-animal bond research, education, and professional development,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI Executive Director. “Being a Human-Animal Bond Certified Company recognizes that Nationwide is strengthening the human-animal bond as a core part of its mission.” As part of the certification process, all Nationwide pet associates will complete human-animal bond training, learning about the science behind the human-animal bond and gaining a deeper understanding of how this science supports pet health and the practice of veterinary medicine. The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors considered essential to the health and well-being of both. “Becoming Human-Animal Bond certified is an honor and a process that we are committed to in every interaction we have with pets and their families. We know the more we learn, the more we can protect them,” said Heidi Sirota, Nationwide’s Chief Pet Officer. Launched in 2018, the NAVC Human-Animal Bond Certification prepares veterinarians and animal care staff to recognize and promote the importance of the bond between pets and their families. The program evaluates the science, communication, community engagement, animal welfare and wellness, and medical care needed to create and maintain a positive human-animal bond. “The Human-Animal Bond Certification gives veterinarians and all those who support them additional tools and training to further understand and safeguard this bond,” said NAVC CEO Gene O’Neill. “The NAVC is committed to...
New Research to Explore the Health Benefits of Cat Fostering for Older Adults
Funded by a two-year grant from the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), faculty from the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Family and Consumer Science and the Obesity Initiative are collaborating on a new research project to examine the impact of pet companionship on mental and emotional health in older adults living alone. “Housing and health are essential to overall well-being, a fact known to pertain to both humans and animals”, said Heidi Ewen, assistant professor, Colleges of Public Health and Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia. “We have proposed a unique solution to help older adults living alone at home establish new social bonds, by pairing them with homeless foster cats.” Partnering with the Athens Area Humane Society and UGA’s Campus Cats organization, a rescue group that works with homeless cats on campus, the team will match foster parents and felines. The team is led by Heidi Ewen and Sherry Sanderson, a veterinarian and associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Beginning in October, the team will begin to identify older adults in the Athens Area that are willing to foster cats. The 34 pairs of cats and seniors will then be interviewed and assessed throughout the study to determine whether having a pet in the house leads to changes in their emotional well-being. Assessments include, loneliness, emotional well-being, and purpose of life scales as well as measures of attachment to, and comfort from, the foster cat. Findings are expected to demonstrate improvements in mental and behavioral health in foster parents including reduction in loneliness and depression, and that attachment to the companion animal will increase the duration of fostering or lead to adoption of the foster cat. “As efforts around the country have increased to reduce euthanasia rates of homeless pets, there is an increasing reliance upon foster homes to bridge the time between...