Background—Hospitalized patients encounter stressors that impact their experience and recovery. There is a need for theoretically based, empirically supported nursing interventions to create a therapeutic and healing environment that decrease stress and improve patients' experiences.
Purpose—To determine whether pet therapy interventions improve physiological, behavioral and mood outcomes and experiences of hospitalized patients.
Methods—A single group pre- post quasi-experimental design with mixed methods was used in 59 hospitalized patients. Paired t-tests were used to evaluate changes from baseline following a pet therapy intervention. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.
Results—Compared with baseline, patients had significant decreases in pain, respiratory rate and negative mood state and a significant increase in perceived energy level. Quantitative and qualitative findings provide support for decreased tension/anxiety and fatigue/inertia and improved overall mood.
Conclusions—Pet therapy is a low-tech, low-cost therapy that improved mood and was meaningful to hospitalized patients.