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Psychosocial well-being and community participation of service dog partners

By D. M. Collins, S. G. Fitzgerald, N. Sachs-Ericsson, M. Scherer, R. A. Cooper, M. L. Boninger

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PURPOSE: This cross-sectional study examined whether partnering with service dogs influenced psychosocial well-being and community participation of adult individuals using wheelchairs or scooters. METHOD: One hundred and fifty-two people were recruited and group-matched, resulting in 76 participants with and 76 without service dogs. Standardized scale scores for affect, depressive symptoms, self-esteem, and loneliness were used to operationally define psychosocial well-being. Community participation was assessed with the 'Social Integration' domain of the Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique. RESULTS: Psychosocial characteristics did not differ significantly between those partnered with and without service dogs overall. However, of participants with progressive conditions, those with service dogs demonstrated significantly higher positive affect scores than comparison group participants. Among those with clinical depression, service dog partners scored significantly higher in positive affect. Finally, regardless of whether individuals had service dogs, fewer depressive symptoms and being female or married were predictors of greater community participation. CONCLUSION: Select individuals may experience psychosocial benefits from partnering with service dogs. However, it is unclear if these benefits might also be derived from companion dogs. Further research is needed to substantiate the findings of this study.

Publication Title Disability and Rehabilitation. Assistive Technology
Volume 1
Issue 1-2
Pages 41-8
ISBN/ISSN 1748-3107 (Print)1748-3107 (Linking)
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Language eng
Author Address Human Engineering Research Laboratories, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Adults
  3. Animals
  4. Cross-Sectional Studies
  5. Disabilities
  6. Dogs
  7. Females
  8. Human-animal bond
  9. Humans
  10. Males
  11. Questionnaires
  12. Scales
  13. Wheelchairs