Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2018 Jan;35(1):5-14.
doi: 10.1177/1049909116675571. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Effects of VA Facility Dog on Hospitalized Veterans Seen by a Palliative Care Psychologist: An Innovative Approach to Impacting Stress Indicators

Affiliations

Effects of VA Facility Dog on Hospitalized Veterans Seen by a Palliative Care Psychologist: An Innovative Approach to Impacting Stress Indicators

Cheryl A Krause-Parello et al. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. .

Abstract

The United States is home to 23 million veterans. In many instances, veterans with serious illness who seek healthcare at the VA receive care from a palliative care service. Animal-assisted intervention (AAI) is gaining attention as a therapeutic stress reducing modality; however, its effects have not been well studied in veterans receiving palliative care in an acute care setting. A crossover repeated-measures study was conducted to examine the effects of an animal-assisted intervention (AAI) in the form of a therapy dog on stress indicators in 25 veterans on the palliative care service at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System in Denver, CO. Veterans had a visit from a therapy dog and the dog's handler, a clinical psychologist (experimental condition) and an unstructured visit with the clinical psychologist alone (control condition). Blood pressure, heart rate, and the salivary biomarkers cortisol, alpha-amylase, and immunoglobulin A were collected before, after, and 30-minutes after both the experimental and control conditions. Significant decreases in cortisol were found when the before time period was compared to the 30-minutes after time period for both the experimental ( p = 0.007) and control condition ( p = 0.036). A significant decrease in HR was also found when the before time period was compared to the 30-minutes after time period for both the experimental ( p = 0.0046) and control ( p = 0.0119) condition. Results of this study supported that a VA facility dog paired with a palliative care psychologist had a measurable impact on salivary cortisol levels and HR in veterans.

Keywords: animal-assisted intervention; cortisol; heart rate; stress; therapy dog; veterans.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

MeSH terms

Feedback