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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2017;87(4):425-433. doi: 10.1037/ort0000254. Epub 2017 Mar 13.

Examining the effects of a novel training program and use of psychiatric service dogs for military-related PTSD and associated symptoms.

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Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


This study explored an intensive 3-week training program and use of psychiatric service dogs for military-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and associated symptoms. The sample included 2 separate cohorts of military veterans (n = 7 and n = 5) with prior diagnoses of PTSD. Participants completed self-report measures assessing PTSD, depression, perception of social support, anger, and overall quality of life 1 month prior to the training (baseline), at arrival to the training site, and 6-month follow-up. Results indicated that, for this sample, there was a statistically significant decrease in PTSD and depression symptoms from pre- to posttreatment, as well as 6-month follow-up. For most participants decreases were both clinically significant and reliable changes. Further, participants reported significant reductions in anger and improvement in perceived social support and quality of life. Limitations of the study include a lack of control group, a limitation of most naturalistic studies, as well as small sample size. Despite this, the findings indicate that utilizing psychiatric service dogs, coupled with an intensive trauma resilience training program for veterans with ongoing symptoms, is feasible as a complementary treatment for PTSD that could yield beneficial results in terms of symptom amelioration and improvement to overall quality of life. (PsycINFO Database Record.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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