Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2009


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Pediatric Nursing


Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a healing modality involving a patient, an animal therapist, and handler with a goal of achieving a specified therapeutic outcome. Despite the myriad of studies documenting the benefits of AAT, no studies have yet determined the impact of animals on alleviation of pain in children. Therefore, a quasi-experimental intervention design was used to capture the change in pain and vital signs with (n = 18) or without (n = 39) AAT in children ages 3–17 in one acute care pediatric setting. The AAT intervention group experienced a significant reduction in pain level compared to the control group, t(55) = −2.86, p = .006. Although blood pressure and pulse were not impacted, respiratory rates became significantly higher in the AAT group (by an average of 2.22 breaths/min) as compared to the control group, t(55) = −2.63, p = .011. This study provides further support to the numerous health benefits of AAT, particularly for children in pain.


This is the author's version of an article that was subsequently published as Braun, Carie, T. Stangler, J. Narveson, and S. Pettingel. 2009. "Animal-assisted Therapy as a Pain Relief Intervention for Children". Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 15: 105-109. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2009.02.008