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Canines and Childhood Cancer: The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy for Patients, Families and Therapy Dogs

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For many people, animals take center stage in their daily lives, offering companionship, comfort, joy and for some, even kinship. Increasingly, greater attention has been given to the roles that animals can play in supporting the health and emotional well-being of people in need, specifically through the use of animal-assisted therapy (AAT). However, while the field of human-animal interaction (HAI) research has expanded enormously in recent years, it is still unclear whether the incorporation of animals into clinical settings is effective from a scientific standpoint. Likewise, although many studies have examined the complex bio-psychosocial impacts of childhood cancer for patients and their families, few have identified complementary therapeutic interventions to help families with the coping process. Finally, there remains a lack of sound HAI research on how AAT may affect therapy dogs.

The Canines and Childhood Cancer (CCC) study seeks to address these research gaps by examining the ability of AAT to impact the well-being and distress levels of pediatric oncology patients and their parents/caregivers, as well as the therapy dogs who visit them, throughout the child's treatment process. Researchers will present the preliminary findings from a pilot trial conducted with three pediatric oncology sites, including data from patients, families and therapy dogs, as well as information on the feasibility of conducting rigorous and innovative AAT research across multiple pediatric healthcare settings.

CCC is a collaborative project between American Humane Association and Pfizer Animal Health.


Angel Tobey

Purdue University

Date November 2013
Publisher Zoetis
Conference Title University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work Summit
Format slides/audio
Size/Length 30 minutes
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted interventions
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animal visitation programs
  5. Cancer
  6. Canine
  7. Companion
  8. Human-animal interactions
  9. therapy animals
  10. United States of America