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Mental Health Implications of Human Attachment to Companion Animals

Authors


  • We thank Bucket ‘O’ Beef for their generous donation of dry dog food samples used as incentives to participate in this study.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Dr. Anna Chur-Hansen, Eleanor Harrald Building, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 5005; e-mail: anna.churhansen@adelaide.edu.au

Abstract

Objectives

Because of the contradictory nature of findings and methodological weaknesses identified within current human-companion animal bond research, there is a need to further explore the connection between human-animal bonds and mental health.

Design

The purpose of this survey questionnaire study was to explore the relationship of attachment to companion animal and human psychological distress after controlling for demographic variables, and to investigate whether the relationship between social supports and psychological distress would be moderated by attachment to a companion animal.

Results

Results highlight the psychological vulnerability of individuals reporting a strong bond with their companion animal.

Conclusions

These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for mental health services designed to anticipate and address client-related companion animal needs.

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