impact of therapy dog visits on outpatient nurse welfare and job satisfaction

Main Article Content

Stephanie Clark
Jessica Smidt
Brent Bauer

Abstract

Interaction with a therapy dog can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and improve heart rate variability; due to these responses, it suggests that human-animal interaction can alleviate the stress response. This study aims to observe if the effects of therapy dog visits could alleviate nursing burnout and increase work satisfaction in an outpatient setting. In addition, this study will observe at what visit frequency of therapy dog visits nurses benefited from most. This study is a two-part study, which also observed the salivary cortisol concentrations of the therapy dogs post therapy visit interaction. The study design was a randomized block design with five treatments over the course of four weeks: TRT A, two therapy dog visits a week; TRT B, one visit a week; TRT C, two visits; TRT D, one visit; and TRT E, no visits. Four out-patient nursing units were selected and asked to complete a demographic survey, the Pet Attitude Scale-Modified, and Lexington Attachment to Pet Scale. Pre- and post-treatments, participants completed the Human Services Survey, Nursing Workplace Satisfaction Questionnaire, Nursing Work Index (Revised), and a visual analog scale. TRT A was able to significantly increase the feeling of happiness. In addition TRT B, a therapy dog visit once a week, was able to significantly reduce self-reported responses of depression and improve emotional wellbeing. Consequently, TRT E, control/no therapy dog visits, had the least amount of improvement in the nursing units’ visual analog scale. This study supports the hypothesis that therapy dog visits can help alleviate stress, frustration, feeling drained, and the overwhelming sensation that can come from working in the nursing field.

Article Details

Section
Research papers

References

Aiken, L. H., Clarke, S. P., Douglas, M., and Sloane, D. M. 2002. Hospital nurse staffing
and patient mortality, nurse burnout, and job dissatisfaction. Journal of American Medicine Association 288(16): 1987-1993. doi:10.1001/jama.288.16.1987.

Aiken, L. H., Cimiotti, J. P., Sloane, D. M., Smith, H. L., Flynn, L., and Neff, D.F. 2011.
The effects of nurse staffing and nurse education on patient deaths in hospitals with different nurse work environments. Medical Care 49(12): 1047-1053. Doi. 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3182330b6e.

Barker, S. B., and Dawson, K. S. 1998. The effects of animal-assisted therapy on anxiety ratings of hospitalized psychiatric patients. Psychology Series 49(6): 797-802.

Beetz, A., Julius, H., Turner, D., and Kotrschal, K. 2012. Effects of social support by a dog on stress modulation in male children with insecure attachment. Frontier Psychology 3: 352.

Berget, B., Ekeberg, O., and Braastad, B. O. 2008. Animal-assisted therapy with farm animals for person with psychiatric disorders: Effects on self-efficacy, coping ability, and quality of life, a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Practice Epidemiology Mental Health 4(9).

Nimer, J., and Lundahl, B. 2007.Animal-assisted therapy: A meta-analysis. Anthrozoology 20(3): 225-238.

Shimizutani, M., Odagiri, Y., Ohya, Y., Shimomitsu, T., Kristensen, T. S., Maruta, T. M. and Iimori, M. 2008. Relationship of nurse burnout with personality characteristics and coping behaviors. Industry Health 46: 326-335.

Vahey, D. C., Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Clarke, S. P., Vargas, D. 2004. Nurse burnout and patient satisfaction. Medical Care 42(2 Suppl): II57-II66.