Graduation Year

2015

Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

Department

Occupational Therapy

Abstract

The capstone project examined the effect of certified therapy dog interaction with residents of a long-term care facility. The primary researcher utilized the assistance of a certified therapy dog and certified therapy handler for five visits to the long-term care facility for a timeframe of once a week for five consecutive weeks. The visits were for a fifteen minute dog visitation in the participant’s room, which comprised the experimental group. The primary researcher monitored the participant’s interaction with the dog, verbalizations, and smile counts during this time. Control group was observed in the courtyard for five consecutive weeks for no dog interaction, until the last final visit. During this time, the primary researcher monitored smile and verbalizations for the fifteen minute duration. The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) was used as the pre- and post-test measurement. The primary researcher also inquired about three additional items: medication changes, visitors to the participant, and the number of outings for the participant. Results on the GDS control group showed a non-significant difference between the pre-GDS scores (M=1.6, SD=0.548) and post-GDS scores (M=1.8, SD=1.789); t(4) =-.272, p=0.799. Further, the experimental group, non-significant difference between pre-GDS scores (M=2.2, SD=1.789) and the post-GDS (M=3.0, SD=0.707); t(4) =-.930, p=0.405). Smile analysis results showed the experimental group had a significantly higher mean smile count (18.1) after interactions with a therapy dog compared to the control group that did not receive animal or human interaction (2.8), t(4.094) = 3.955, p = 0.016. The study also found that the experimental group did have statistically higher mean verbalizations (23.5) after interactions with a therapy dog compared to the control group that did not have any animal or human interaction (3.2), t (4.078) = 2.819, p = 0.047. A significant difference was found between the average, non-dog meeting smile counts (M = 2.8, SD = 0.929) and the one dog-assisted visit (M vi = 21.4, SD=7.300); t(4)=-6.393, p=0.003. There was a significant difference between the average, non-dog meeting verbalizations (M=3.2, SD=1.579) and the one dog-assisted visit (M=15.8, Sd=6.978); t(4)=-4.735, p=0.009.

In conclusion, this study found that the GDS scores were not altered by a certified therapy dog visiting for the duration of fifteen minutes. However, this study did find that significant results in both smiles and verbalizations increased with a certified therapy dog’s interaction for a duration of fifteen minutes, once a week, for the course of a five week duration of study.

Faculty Mentor

Colleen Schneck, ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Camille Skubik-Peplaski, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, FAOTA

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

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