Measuring clinical outcomes of animal-assisted therapy: Impact on resident medication usage

Elaine Lust, Ann Ryan-Haddad, Kelli Coover, Jeff Snell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To measure changes in medication usage of as-needed, psychoactive medications and other select as-needed medication usage as a result of a therapy dog residing in the rehabilitation facility. Additional measures are participants' thoughts and feelings on quality-of-life factors. Design: One group, pretest, post-test. Setting: Residential rehabilitation facility. Participants: Convenience sample, N = 58 residents living at the facility. Intervention: A certified, trained therapy dog. Main Outcome Measure(s): Changes in as-needed medication usage for the following categories: analgesics, psychoactive medications, and laxatives, as well as changes in vital sign measurements of blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate, and body weight. Additionally, changes in the residents' perception of quality-of-life factors. Results: One of the three monitored drug classes, analgesia, revealed a decrease in medication usage (mean = 2.6, standard deviation [SD] +/- 6.90, P= 0.017), and one of four monitored vital signs, pulse, showed a decrease (mean = 5.8, SD +/-7.39, P = 0.000) in study participants exposed to the therapy dog. Positive changes were reported in study participants' quality of life. Conclusion: The benefits to human welfare as a result of the presence of a therapy dog have the potential to decrease medication usage for certain conditions in long-term care patients as well as decrease costs. Pharmacist involvement in animal-assisted therapy has the potential to make unique and measurable improvements to best patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-585
Number of pages6
JournalConsultant Pharmacist
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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