The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation recently announced that it has awarded $123,000 across two grants to study the effects of therapy dogs on children in hospitals.
The first grant, $79,000, was awarded to a research team at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine to study the effects of animal-assisted intervention (AAI) on children’s anxiety levels and sedation medication dosages prior to surgery. Participants in the study include 72 children who will receive a therapy dog or an iPad tablet 20 minutes before sedation. Heart rate, blood pressure and medicine levels for sedation will then be evaluated for each group and compared. Researchers anticipate that children provided with therapy dogs will experience lower levels of anxiety and will require lower dosages of sedative compared to the control group.
The second grant, $44,000, was awarded to a research team at Duke University School of Medicine’s Division of Pediatric Cardiology to study the effects of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on children undergoing echocardiography. Participants in the study include 150 children randomly assigned to receive either canine-assisted therapy only, canine-assisted therapy combined with standard distraction techniques, or standard distraction techniques only. Researchers anticipate that children exposed to AAT will report greater levels of comfort and that echocardiogram results will be more complete and of a higher quality than those of children in the control group.
“Scientific research has shown that therapy dogs in hospital settings can have a calming effect, ease stress and provide reassurance to patients young and old, and to their families as well.”
— Steven Feldman, Executive Director, HABRI Foundation
For more information about the two studies as well as other projects funded by the HABRI Foundation, visit http://habri.org.