New Research to Study Impacts of Pet Ownership on Healthy Aging in Healthcare and Social Service Settings | HABRI

New Research to Study Impacts of Pet Ownership on Healthy Aging in Healthcare and Social Service Settings

Human Animal Bond Research Institute Awards Grant to the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

Washington, D.C. (October 19, 2020) — 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,” said Dr. Bibbo. “Yet, the topic of pet ownership is largely overlooked in the training of those working with people living with and managing dementia. The unique capacity for the human-animal bond to facilitate healthy aging in this population amplifies the need to educate the geriatric workforce on all the aspects relevant to pet ownership.

“We know from research that pets can play a vital role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older adults and HABRI’s goal is to help more people keep pets and have access to the human-animal bond as they age,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “HABRI is proud to support this study, which will inform those in healthcare and social services who take great care of the aging population on how best to facilitate healthy aging through the promotion of the human-animal bond.”

About Benjamin Rose

Founded in 1908, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging (www.benrose.org) is a nationally recognized Cleveland-based nonprofit whose mission is to advance support for older adults and caregivers. This work is accomplished by deepening the understanding of their evolving needs in a changing society; promoting effective public policies; and developing and delivering innovative, high-quality solutions, including evidence-based programs that are tested and proven by research to achieve beneficial outcomes for consumers.

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
Study Shows Service Dogs are Associated with Lower PTSD Symptoms Among War Veterans

A preliminary study led by researchers in the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that overall symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are lower among war veterans with service dogs. The pilot study was co-funded by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Bayer Animal Health. The study was led by Maggie O’Haire, assistant professor of human-animal interaction, with the help of K9s For Warriors, an accredited non-profit organization that provides veterans with service dogs. The pilot research project provides scientific evidence of mental health benefits experienced by veterans with PTSD who have service dogs. “We found that the group of veterans with service dogs had significantly lower levels of PTSD symptomology than those who did not have a service dog,” O’Haire says. “They also had lower levels of depression, lower anxiety and increased social participation, meaning a willingness to leave their house and go engage with society in different activities.” The study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Participants were recruited between November 2015 and February 2016 from a national sample of 304 individuals who applied and were approved to receive a trained PTSD service dog from K9s For Warriors. Of these, 141 individuals chose to participate in the preliminary trial. Approximately half of the sample of participants were on the waitlist to receive a service dog and the other half already had a service dog. Measurements of various aspects of PTSD symptoms, quality of life, social functioning and work were analyzed and compared between the two groups. Results reveal that veterans suffering from PTSD exhibited better mental health and well-being on several measures if they had a service dog, including: Lower overall symptoms of post-traumatic stress Lower levels of depression Higher levels of life satisfaction Higher overall psychological well-being Lower...

Press Releases
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.”

Press Releases
New Study to Investigate Impact of Pet Ownership in Relationships with Intimate Partner Violence

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a new research grant to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) School of Public Health to investigate how pet ownership and cruelty to animals impacts the decisions and mental health outcomes of survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). “Pet abuse has been identified as a predictor of IPV, but there is a lack of data to fully understand the role of pet ownership in relationships where IPV is occurring,” said Alaina Beauchamp, MPH, Principal Investigator. “Quantifying the link between intimate partner violence and animal cruelty will help identify ways to protect people and pets and lower the barriers to seeking help.” One in 4 women and 1 in 9 men reported IPV in 2019 alone. 41 percent of men arrested for IPV reported committing acts of animal cruelty, compared to a nationally representative sample of adult men who reported a 2 percent incidence of animal cruelty. Up to 48 percent of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations out of fear for their pet’s safety, and only 15 percent of U.S. domestic violence shelters are pet friendly. This new research study led by Alaina Beauchamp, a doctoral student, and Katelyn Jetelina, PhD, assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health, will collect data from women residing in emergency and transitional housing at a domestic violence shelter in the southern United States to examine their experiences of animal cruelty and the barriers it created when seeking help. Data will be used to capture the burden of animal cruelty in this population, assess the role emotional manipulation by an abuser plays in choices made for an IPV survivor and their pet, and evaluate the impact of the human-animal bond on the resiliency and mental health of these IPV survivors. “HABRI is proud to be funding this important research, which will bring data to a critical issue facing survivors of IPV and their pets,” said...

HABRI