New Study to Investigate the Impact of Pets on the Mental Health of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth | HABRI

New Study to Investigate the Impact of Pets on the Mental Health of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth

Human Animal Bond Research Institute Awards Research Grant to Virginia Commonwealth University

Washington, D.C. (November 9, 2021) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today the award of a new research grant to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to examine the relationship between sexual and gender minority (SGM) stressors in young adulthood and human-animal interaction (HAI), investigating how pets may serve as a protective factor for this marginalized population during the transition to adulthood. The lead investigators of the grant are Drs. Rosalie Corona and Shelby McDonald, both in the Department of Psychology.

SGM emerging adults (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender minority identities or “LGBTQ+” ́) are a diverse group of young people facing stigma, victimization, and discrimination at levels that impact their wellbeing. This research project involves a three-wave panel study of 300 SGM emerging adults. Over a 6-month period, researchers aim to identify unique relations between SGM stressors and HAI, exploring how pets are associated with increases in personal hardiness, and whether comfort derived from them buffers the negative impact of victimization on self-esteem. This study will allow researchers to assess these effects over time and identify causal mechanisms that explain the relationship between pets and improved health outcomes, providing further evidence for the role of pets as a social determinant of health.

“This study is the first to longitudinally test whether relationships with pets help this underserved population cope with stress,” said Dr. Shelby McDonald, Co-Principal Investigator. “I’m thrilled to be working with Co-PI Dr. Rosalie Corona, on this project, who brings expertise in reducing risk, health disparities, and improving health behaviors. We expect to find that measures of the human-animal bond, such as attachment to pets and comfort derived from pets, will be positively associated with self-esteem and personal hardiness, and negatively associated with stress and substance use.”

Dr. Corona shared, “Findings from this project have important public health and policy implications for promoting the health of SGM emerging adults and could lay the foundation for health promotion of younger and older SGM individuals.”

“As the first project to longitudinally examine the impact of pet ownership on the development of LGBTQ+ young adults, this work addresses an important gap in the field of HAI research,” said Steven Feldman, president of HABRI. “HABRI is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and is proud to be funding research to advance this commitment.”

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
HABRI and NAVC Launch New and Improved Human-Animal Bond Veterinary Certification

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) today launched the new-and-improved Human Animal Bond Certified course for veterinarians, veterinary nurses and veterinary practice managers.   Initially launched in 2018, Human Animal Bond Certified has become the one-and-only certification for animal health professionals looking to engage with their clients through the communication and the science of the human-animal bond. With veterinarians and staff in high demand since the pandemic, significant changes have been made to the course, including the addition of new modules on hot topics such as aftercare and access to care. Human Animal Bond Certification will now be offered as a tiered system, with three, six-hour modules to make the course more manageable to complete. Practice certification is also now available.  “The pandemic has not only accelerated the importance of pets in people’s lives, but it has also created more attentive pet owners who want the best care for their pets and who expect to hear from their veterinarians about the human-animal bond,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI President.   “Human Animal Bond Certified 2.0 equips veterinarians and their teams with the resources they need to support and acknowledge the human-animal bond.”  “Passion for the human-animal bond is an important driver for veterinary professionals,” said Gene O’Neill, CEO of NAVC. “In helping educate veterinarians and staff about the science of the human-animal bond, Human Animal Bond Certified 2.0 is the new gold standard for veterinarians looking to reconnect with their purpose and engage with their clients in a meaningful and effective way.”  Human Animal Bond Certified 2.0 provides veterinarians and staff the tools needed to maintain client relationships and better meet their needs. Program modules focus on the science, communication, community engagement, animal welfare and wellness, and medical care needed...

Press Releases
HABRI Hosts Virtual Lecture on the Impact of a Shelter Cat Fostering Program on the Mental Health of Older Adults Living Alone

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and IDEXX held a virtual lecture on the impact of a shelter cat fostering program on the health and wellbeing of older adults living independently alone. This was the second in a planned series of lectures, sponsored by IDEXX, to highlight impactful scientific research on the health benefits of the human-animal bond and the importance of veterinary medicine in strengthening human-animal bonds. In this lecture, “The Impact of a Feline Fostering Program for Older Adults Living Alone”, Dr. Sherry Sanderson, BS, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVIM, Dipl ACVN, Associate Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, discussed the main aims and shared preliminary results of her ongoing HABRI-funded study, “Healthy Aging: Human Companionship Through Fostering Felines”, which have indicated that participation in the foster cat program decreases loneliness in older adults. “IDEXX is proud to sponsor this human-animal bond lecture and to provide pet owners and veterinarians with tangible, real-world examples of how the human-animal bond can improve lives in both humans and companion animals in need,” said Kerry Bennett, Corporate Vice President, IDEXX. Funded by HABRI, “Healthy Aging: Human Companionship Through Fostering Felines” aims to determine if fostering a shelter cat, with the option for adoption, improves the mental health and emotional health of older adults living alone. In addition, Dr. Sanderson and her research team are assessing the impact of feline fostering on older adults’ interest in and commitment to adopting their foster cat, as well as evaluating the feline fostering program as a sustainable partnership between the University of Georgia and community partners. Preliminary results indicate that participants experience a decrease in loneliness at one- and four-months post placement of the foster cat, and that the level of comfort participants receive from their cats continually increases...

Press Releases
New Research Reveals 82% of HR Professionals Have Seen the Benefits of Pets for Employee Mental Health

OnePack by PetPartners, a best-in-class pet insurance provider, and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a survey analyzing the perception of pets and pet-friendly policies in the workplace. Surveying 1,021 HR professionals across the United States and Canada, findings demonstrate pets and pet-inclusive benefits at work have a significant impact for employees, especially relating to mental and physical well-being. “Nearly every respondent considers pets an important part of the family, and 78% believe pet insurance is an important benefit to offer employees, citing employee wellbeing and morale as key drivers of this voluntary benefit,” said Michelle Yates, EVP of OnePack by PetPartners. “While the connection between pets and the workplace may still be new for some employers, it’s clear there is a strong desire from HR professionals to be inclusive of pet-related voluntary benefits, such as pet insurance, veterinary telehealth, pet bereavement, and more.” Highlights from the study include: HR Professionals See the Value of Pet-Friendly Benefits The Human-Animal Bond is Strong Among HR Professionals: 95% of HR professionals say they would do whatever they can to ensure their pet lives a healthy life, 94% of HR professionals believe their pet is an important member of the family, and 90% of senior HR leaders say if their pet required extensive veterinary care, they would spend whatever it takes Improved Mental Health Benefits and Personal Well-Being from Pets: 96% of respondents reported personally experiencing improved health from owning a pet – either mental, physical, or both. Furthermore, 82% have seen/heard firsthand employee mental health benefits of pet ownership and 81% believe pets can improve employee mental health – this rises to 95% for Gen Z HR professionals. Pet-Friendly Culture Matters: 87% of HR professionals believe offering pet insurance is a good way for the company to show care and concern for employees and...

HABRI