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Effects of animal-assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities

By Marian R. Banks, William A. Banks

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Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is claimed to have a variety of benefits, but almost all published results are anecdotal. We characterized the resident population in long-term care facilities desiring AAT and determined whether AAT can objectively improve loneliness.



Of 62 residents, 45 met inclusion criteria for the study. These 45 residents were administered the Demographic and Pet History Questionnaire (DPHQ) and Version 3 of the UCLA Loneliness Scale (UCLA-LS). They were then randomized into three groups (no AAT; AAT once/week; AAT three times/week; n = 15/group) and retested with the UCLA-LS near the end of the 6-week study.



Use of the DPHQ showed residents volunteering for the study had a strong life-history of emotional intimacy with pets and wished that they currently had a pet. AAT was shown by analysis of covariance followed by pairwise comparison to have significantly reduced loneliness scores in comparison with the no AAT group.



The desire for AAT strongly correlates with previous pet ownership. AAT reduces loneliness in residents of long-term care facilities.

Date 2002
Publication Title Journals of Gerontology: Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume 57
Issue 7
Pages M428-M432
ISBN/ISSN 1079-5006
DOI 10.1093/gerona/57.7.M428
Language English
Author Address Banks, William A., VAMC 915 N. Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO, US, 63106,
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Attitudes
  3. Institutionalized populations
  4. Loneliness
  5. Long-term care facilities
  6. Older adults
  7. open access
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. Pets and companion animals
  10. Pet therapy
  11. randomized trials
  12. United States of America
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed