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
Treat Planet Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Treat Planet, makers of natural, eco-friendly pet products, has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “As makers of the best darn treats on the planet, Treat Planet provides man’s best friend with the best quality nutrition to keep them healthy and happy,” said Doug Martin, President of Treat Planet. “HABRI’s research shows that by maintaining a pet’s health, pet owners can improve their own health and well-being. Through supporting HABRI, Treat Planet is now advancing the human-animal bond through scientific research and quality nutrition, and we couldn’t be more proud.” “Recent HABRI research found that when educated about the health benefits of the human-animal bond, pet owners are more likely to provide their pets with higher quality nutrition, including treats,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “Not only is Treat Planet furthering its own mission through joining other leading companies and organizations from the pet care community that support HABRI, but it’s also contributing to a broader purpose of ensuring that more people can improve their health and quality of life through pet ownership.” 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...
New Research to Study Impact of Therapy Dogs on Easing Child Anxiety in the Emergency Room
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Pet Partners announced today a grant to Indiana University School of Medicine for a new research project, Canine-assisted anxiety reduction in pediatric emergency care (CANINE III). The study will investigate the impact of therapy dog visits on the anxiety levels of children in emergency care. “Registered Pet Partners therapy dog teams visit hospitals throughout the country, and we know they can put a smile on a child’s face, no matter what they are going through,” said C. Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “Scientific research to validate the efficacy of therapy dogs in the emergency room has the potential to not only provide more children with much needed comfort and emotional support, but to also help serve as a complementary intervention to improve medical outcomes.” “Virtually all children experience some degree of psychological stress as patients in the emergency department,” says the Principal Investigator, Jeffrey Kline, MD, IU School of Medicine “The inclusion of therapy dog visits in addition to a child-life specialist could provide a low cost, low risk method to help reduce child and parental anxiety in the emergency department.” CANINE III is a NCT-registered, two-arm, block randomized trial with one to one matching of patients receiving therapy dogs as an adjunct with a child life specialist, compared with children who receive child life specialists alone. The children will receive a 15-minute visit, with the research team periodically collecting saliva samples to test for cortisol levels, or the level of stress. Dr. Kline will complete this project alongside co-investigator Alan Beck, PhD, Purdue University. The study will also test if therapy dogs afford greater anxiety reduction in children with psychiatric complaints, autism spectrum disorder, or brain injury, versus children with none of those conditions. All...
New Research to Inform Best Practices in Animal-Assisted Therapy
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Pet Partners announced today a grant to the University of British Columbia for a new study, Direct Experimental Assessment of Therapy Dog Handlers on Child and Dog Behavior During Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI). This study will aim to determine how different therapy animal handler styles influence stress behavior in both children and dogs during animal-assisted therapy sessions. “Pet Partners has long been the gold standard for therapy animal handler training and this study will help provide scientific evidence to guide handler best practices to maximize the benefits of the intervention,” said Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “We are proud to partner with HABRI in supporting human-animal bond research that will help inform best practices and foster consistency in the profession.” “Therapy dog handlers are trained to be active in sessions and interact with the participants and the dogs alike, however the handling procedures can be inconsistent, and often not even measured across sessions,” added Megan Arant, MS, Principal Investigator. “It is possible that the handler variation of in-session procedures with their own therapy dogs is also influencing the participants through altering the way the dog is presented as well as altering the dogs’ own behavior, which could cause discrepancies in the therapeutic effect. Therefore, it is beneficial to create a consistent standard for how handlers are instructed to interact with their dogs in AAI sessions to ensure homogeneity.” This study aims to provide empirical data on how to improve outcomes of AAI sessions. Specifically, the study focuses on one largely neglected area, namely how the owner-handler of the therapy dogs interacts with their own dog in the session, and subsequently influences the dog’s behavior and the therapeutic effect of the session. By targeting handler behavior and manipulating factors such as leash restriction...