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Am J Crit Care. 2007 Nov;16(6):575-85; quiz 586; discussion 587-8.

Animal-assisted therapy in patients hospitalized with heart failure.

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. nskmc@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Animal-assisted therapy improves physiological and psychosocial variables in healthy and hypertensive patients.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine whether a 12-minute hospital visit with a therapy dog improves hemodynamic measures, lowers neurohormone levels, and decreases state anxiety in patients with advanced heart failure.

METHODS:

A 3-group randomized repeated-measures experimental design was used in 76 adults. Longitudinal analysis was used to model differences among the 3 groups at 3 times. One group received a 12-minute visit from a volunteer with a therapy dog; another group, a 12-minute visit from a volunteer; and the control group, usual care. Data were collected at baseline, at 8 minutes, and at 16 minutes.

RESULTS:

Compared with controls, the volunteer-dog group had significantly greater decreases in systolic pulmonary artery pressure during (-4.32 mm Hg, P = .03) and after (-5.78 mm Hg, P = .001) and in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure during (-2.74 mm Hg, P = .01) and after (-4.31 mm Hg, P = .001) the intervention. Compared with the volunteer-only group, the volunteer-dog group had significantly greater decreases in epinephrine levels during (-15.86 pg/mL, P = .04) and after (-17.54 pg/mL, P = .04) and in norepinephrine levels during (-232.36 pg/mL, P = .02) and after (-240.14 pg/mL, P = .02) the intervention. After the intervention, the volunteer-dog group had the greatest decrease from baseline in state anxiety sum score compared with the volunteer-only (-6.65 units, P =.002) and the control groups (-9.13 units, P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Animal-assisted therapy improves cardiopulmonary pressures, neurohormone levels, and anxiety in patients hospitalized with heart failure.

PMID:
17962502
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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