An investigation of the effects of dog visits on depression, mood, and social interaction in elderly individuals living in a nursing home

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Abstract

The present study investigated the effects of weekly dog visits on depression scores, mood, and social interaction in elderly individuals living in a nursing home. Five elderly residents participated in baseline assessments for 4–8 weeks and then received weekly dog visits for 6 weeks. Assessments, consisting of weekly observations of social interaction and paper and pencil measures of mood and depression, continued during the dog visits. The effect of dog visits was evaluated in a multiple baseline across participants design. Dog visits did not improve depression scores, mood (with the exception of one resident), or social interaction (with the exception of one resident). Residents did interact with the dog during the visits, however, and reported that they enjoyed the visits. These results show that dog visits do not always have therapeutic effects and suggest the need for further research in the area before the beneficial effects of dog visits can be substantiated. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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