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J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. 2018 May;35(3):159-177. doi: 10.1177/1043454217748586. Epub 2017 Dec 21.

Measuring the Effects of an Animal-Assisted Intervention for Pediatric Oncology Patients and Their Parents: A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial [Formula: see text].

Author information

1
1 American Humane, Washington, DC, USA.
2
2 Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Nashville, TN, USA.
3
3 Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, TN, USA.
4
4 Pediatric Palliative Care Research Team, Nashville, TN, USA.
5
5 Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, Portland, OR, USA.
6
6 UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, Sacramento, CA, USA.
7
7 St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, Tampa, FL, USA.
8
8 Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, North Grafton, MA, USA.
9
9 University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.
10
10 UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center, Worcester, MA, USA.
11
11 Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This multicenter, parallel-group, randomized trial examined the effects of an animal-assisted intervention on the stress, anxiety, and health-related quality of life for children diagnosed with cancer and their parents.

METHOD:

Newly diagnosed patients, aged 3 to 17 years (n = 106), were randomized to receive either standard care plus regular visits from a therapy dog (intervention group), or standard care only (control group). Data were collected at set points over 4 months of the child's treatment. Measures included the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory™, Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, Pediatric Inventory for Parents, and child blood pressure and heart rate. All instruments were completed by the child and/or his/her parent(s).

RESULTS:

Children in both groups experienced a significant reduction in state anxiety ( P < .001). Parents in the intervention group showed significantly decreased parenting stress ( P = .008), with no changes in stress among parents in the control group. However, no significant differences between groups over time on any measures were observed.

CONCLUSIONS:

Animal-assisted interventions may provide certain benefits for parents and families during the initial stages of pediatric cancer treatment.

KEYWORDS:

animal-assisted intervention; health-related quality of life; parent; pediatric oncology; stress

PMID:
29268667
DOI:
10.1177/1043454217748586

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