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The influence of companion animals on the psychological health of older adults

By C. May

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Abstract

Companion animals are thought to have an influence on the psychological health of older adults. It has been suggested that interacting with companion animals affects psychological functioning by reducing depression, anxiety, loneliness and stress, and improving social competence, social interest, life satisfaction and self-concept. However, some research has shown minimal positive outcomes for older people. The possible reasons for these inconsistent results in human-animal interaction research were investigated. Using a review of published literature, three important methodological weaknesses of studies in this area that could contribute to the inconsistent results were investigated. These were: (1) the attitudes of the participants towards animals, (2) the type of data-collection instruments or measures used, and (3) the increased human social contact that people can experience when a companion animal is introduced. It was concluded that the inconsistent results in this field occur because human-animal interaction research fails to adequately measure the complex construct of human-animal relationships for older adults.

Date 2007
Publication Title Australian Veterinary Practitioner
Volume 37
Issue 1
Pages 16, 18-19
ISBN/ISSN 0310-138X
Language English
Author Address School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Queensland 4072, Australia. cybele_may@optusnet.com.au
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Tags
  1. Age
  2. Attitudes
  3. Health
  4. Instruments
  5. Mammals
  6. Older adults
  7. peer-reviewed
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. Primates
  10. Research
  11. Reviews
  12. Social psychology and social anthropology
  13. Studies
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed