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Published online: 2024-05-16
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Impact of animal-assisted therapy on subjective anxiety ratings and objective blood pressure measurements in children at an outpatient psychiatric setting

Panna Patel1, Wali Yousufzai2, Regina Baronia2, Samudani Dhanasekara3, Zachary Sullivan2


Introduction: The aim of this study was to evaluate the level of anxiety and blood pressure measurements with and/or without therapy dog in follow-up child patients who presented to the outpatient setting for evaluation.

Material and methods: Participant population included 34 patients in the pediatric outpatient psychiatric clinic. Participants were randomly assigned to the “dog group” or the “alone group”. The subjective anxiety rating scale assessment tool and objective Systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements were obtained twice: pre and post encounter.

Results: Two-way ANOVA of systolic and diastolic blood pressure revealed no significant main effects (p = 0.767, p = 0.192 respectively). There was no difference in improvement of post-encounter Subjective Anxiety rating scale score compared to pre encounter Subjective Anxiety rating scale score (p > 0.999).

Conclusions: The findings of this study did not show statistically significant differences in the level of anxiety either by physiologic or psychologic measures in the setting of animal-assisted therapy (AAT). However, verbal benefit expressed from patients and family have been noted. Further study may be warranted with larger sample size and using other anxiety rating scales with simple language that is more understandable to children.

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