Measuring the Effects of an Animal-Assisted Intervention for Pediatric Oncology Patients and Their Parents: A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial

Amy McCullough, Ashleigh Ruehrdanz, Molly A. Jenkins, Mary Jo Gilmer, Janice Olson, Anjali S Pawar, Leslie Holley, Shirley Sierra-Rivera, Deborah E. Linder, Danielle Pichette, Neil J. Grossman, Cynthia Hellman, Noémi A. Guérin, Marguerite E. O’Haire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Oncology(nursing)

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