The Role and Impact of Animals With Pediatric Patients

Anna Tielsch Goddard, MSN, BS, RN, CPNP-PC; Mary Jo Gilmer, PhD, MBA, RN-BC, FAAN


Pediatr Nurs. 2015;41(2):65-71. 

In This Article

Additional Benefits to Patients

Although many research studies and prior literature show the importance of AAT with therapeutic goals and a more regimented visit, animalassisted activities (AAA) also benefit patients. A randomized control trial conducted in a large psychiatric institution with participants diagnosed with schizophrenia showed significant improvements (p = 0.005) in selfesteem, self-determination, positive psychiatric symptoms, and emotional symptoms after an 8-week animalassisted activity intervention (Chu et al., 2009). Investigators noticed that the touching and accompaniment of dogs had positive effects on the patients' health (Chu et al., 2009). Therefore, the therapeutic benefit of animals on the human patient should not be disregarded if the interaction was not formally presented in the AAT format.

Studies conclude that individuals report improvement in social interactions with dogs. In individuals with disabilities, service dogs not only help their owner, but also normalize interactions with other people (Guest, Collis, & McNicholas, 2006; Wells, 2009). An earlier study on self-esteem in adolescents showed that teenagers ranked a companion animal, or pet, below parents but above other social acquaintances when listing what made them feel satisfaction or good about themselves (Juhasz, 1985).