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.
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License
Braun, Carie; Stangler, T.; Narveson, J.; and Pettingel, S., "Animal-assisted Therapy as a Pain Relief Intervention for Children" (2009). Nursing Faculty Publications. 9.