New Research to Study Relationship between Pet Ownership and Youth Development in a Nationally-Representative Dataset | HABRI

New Research to Study Relationship between Pet Ownership and Youth Development in a Nationally-Representative Dataset

Human Animal Bond Research Institute Awards Grant to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

Washington, D.C. (September 25, 2019) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a new research project to determine the role of pet ownership in predicting trajectories of youth development. Funded by a grant from HABRI, researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University aim to determine whether there are systematic differences between families who own pets and those without pets with regard to demographics, social environment, and health status, and if these factors predict patterns of pet ownership over time.

“Existing human-animal interaction research is limited in exploring how race, ethnicity, and culture are related to pet ownership, and because the sample analyzed in this study will be nationally representative, we hope to have data on a very diverse group of youth,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Megan Kiely Mueller, PhD, the Elizabeth Arnold Stevens Junior Professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. “This research project will capitalize on a rigorous study design, and a measurement model specifically designed for understanding how environmental experiences influence cognitive and social development and health outcomes.”

The goal of the study is to leverage available data from a unique population-based longitudinal study of adolescent development, the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), by analyzing pet ownership information to answer key questions about the relationship between human-animal interaction and trajectories of youth development, including social interaction and support, academic performance, mental health and physical activity.

The study includes a baseline cohort of over 11,800 youth enrolled in the ABCD study at 9-10 years of age and their parents/guardians, who will be followed for ten years. In addition to assessing youth development, the study will use the ABCD data to assess if there are systematic differences between families who own pets and those without pets with regard to demographics, cultural/ethnic identity, social environment, and health status and if these factors predict patterns of pet ownership (e.g., stability or changes in pet ownership status) over time. Principal Investigator Megan Kiely Mueller, PhD, expects that analyzing pet ownership data from the ABCD will allow for understanding broad sociodemographic patterns of pet ownership as well as causal relationships between pet ownership and trajectories of youth development.

“HABRI is proud to be supporting this high-impact research that has great potential to fulfill the need for more longitudinal, nationally-representative data in the field of human-animal interaction,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director, HABRI. “We hope this study will help us gain further insight into the factors that influence pet ownership, while also building on existing science that supports a positive relationship between pet ownership and youth development.”

About HABRI

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.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

###

Press Releases
Newly Published Study Shows Young Children with Pet Dogs Fare Better Than Those Without

Results of a just-published study led by researchers at The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute and funded by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) demonstrate that young children from dog-owning households are less likely to experience difficulties with their emotions and social interactions compared to children in households without a pet dog. The study was published in the journal Pediatric Research. “Our research found that having a family dog in the household was positively associated with young children’s social-emotional development,” said Dr. Hayley Christian, Associate Professor at The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute and Principal Investigator of the study. “Our research also supports spending time walking and playing with the dog for added benefits, and we hope these results will help parents, children and pets remain active at home during this time of physical distancing.” “Findings of this study demonstrate that, starting from a young age, the human-animal bond can play an important role in a child’s social and emotional development,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “HABRI is proud to support this important research, which will encourage more families to consider the benefits of dog ownership and more dog-owning families to spend quality time with their beloved pets.” The team of researchers at The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute, led by Dr. Christian, collected survey data from 1,646 households, taking into account children’s age, biological sex, sleep habits, screen time and parents’ education levels. Findings indicate that dog ownership is associated with improvements in wellbeing and social-emotional development in children. Specifically, in comparison to children in non-dog-owning households, children from dog-owning households were 23 percent less likely to have difficulties with their emotions and social interactions...

Press Releases
New Scientific Results: Asking Patients About Pets Enhances Patient Communication and Care

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...

Press Releases
HABRI Awards Grant to Green Chimneys

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it had awarded a $24,000 grant to Green Chimneys, a leader in animal-assisted therapy and educational programs, for a new research study, Animal-­‐Assisted Social Skills Training for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This grant to Green Chimneys advances the HABRI Foundation’s mission to better document the effects of animals on human health through scientific research,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “Animals can play a positive role in the lives of those with autism, and we look forward to learning more as a result of this study. Further exploring the effect of dogs on children with ASD, the purpose of this study is to develop and test an animal-assisted social skills intervention. As one of the first research projects undertaken by The Sam & Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys, the 12-week study will include a controlled trial with 32 Green Chimneys students ages 8-15, comparing an animal-assisted social skills group and a traditional social skills training group without an animal present. It is predicted that participants in the social skills training group that incorporates work with dogs will exhibit greater levels of change in social skills, perspective taking, theory of mind and decreased feelings of isolation when compared with those participants receiving the traditional social skills training. If significant results are found, it will further demonstrate that animal-assisted interventions are a valid approach for teaching children with ASD the skills necessary to engage with peers and will further support the role of the human-animal bond in advancing children with developmental delays. Green Chimneys’ long history of incorporating animal-­assisted activities into therapeutic treatment makes it an ideal laboratory for conducting research in the area of human-animal interaction (HAI),” said Dr. Steven Klee, Green Chimneys Associate Executive...

HABRI