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Keywords:

  • animal-assisted therapy/activities;
  • anxiety;
  • companion dog;
  • depression;
  • elderly

Abstract

Background:  The aim of the present study was to explore the effect of a companion dog on the depression and anxiety levels of residents in a long-term care facility.

Methods:  A total of 16 residents (eight men and eight women) were randomly assigned to a control group (n = 8) and an Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) group (n = 8) that met once a week for 6 weeks. All residents in the AAA group were either in wheelchairs or walking with crutches. The Beck Depression Inventory and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) were used pre- and post-intervention.

Results:  For both the total group and control group no significant differences were found on depression and anxiety pre and post mean scores. However, for the AAA group, significant differences were found between pre and post BDI mean scores while the BAI mean score differences were non-significant.

Conclusion:  The results of this small study confirm the results of other studies that AAA visits can make a difference to the depression levels of residents in long-term care facilities.