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Pet therapy in elderly patients with mental illness

By Francesca Moretti, Diana De Ronchi, Virginia Bernabei, Lucia Marchetti, Barbara Ferrari, Claudia Forlani, Francesca Negretti, Cleta Sacchetti, Anna Rita Atti

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Background: To evaluate the effects of pet therapy on cognitive function, mood and perceived quality of life on elderly inpatients (mean age 84.7 years; 95.2% women) affected by dementia, depression and psychosis.

Methods: Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and 15-items Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) were administered to 10 patients (pet group) and 11 controls (control group) together with a self-perceived quality-of-life questionnaire, before and after a pet therapy intervention that lasted 6 weeks. MMSE and GDS mean scores were compared between and within groups by Student's t-test.

Results: Both the pet group and control group improved on GDS and MMSE. Within the pet group, GDS symptoms decreased by 50% (from 5.9 to 2.7, P= 0.013), whereas mean MMSE score increased by 4.5 (P= 0.060). The between group comparison showed a positive effect of pet therapy intervention on GDS (P= 0.070). Most of the participants reported an improvement of their perceived quality of life.

Conclusions: Pet therapy is efficient in improving depressive symptoms and cognitive function in residents of long-term care facilities with mental illness.

Date 2011
Publication Title Psychogeriatrics
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 125-129
ISBN/ISSN 1346-35001479-8301
Publisher Wiley
DOI 10.1111/j.1479-8301.2010.00329.x
URL https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-8301.2010.00329.x
Language English
Author Address Moretti, Francesca, Institute of Psychiatry 'P. Ottonello', Bologna University Viale Pepoli 5, 40100, Bologna, Italy, fra-moretti@libero.it
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Cognition
  3. Emotions
  4. Geriatrics
  5. Mental disorders
  6. Mental illness
  7. moods
  8. Older adults
  9. open access
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. Pet therapy
  12. Quality of life
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed