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Effect of animal‐assisted interventions on depression, agitation and quality of life in nursing home residents suffering from cognitive impairment or dementia: A cluster randomized controlled trial

By Christine Olsen, Ingeborg Pedersen, Astrid Bergland, Marie‐José Enders‐Slegers, Grete Patil, Camilla Ihlebæk

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Objectives

The prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms in cognitively impaired nursing home residents is known to be very high, with depression and agitation being the most common symptoms. The possible effects of a 12‐week intervention with animal‐assisted activities (AAA) in nursing homes were studied. The primary outcomes related to depression, agitation and quality of life (QoL).

Method

A prospective, cluster randomized multicentre trial with a follow‐up measurement 3 months after end of intervention was used. Inclusion criteria were men and women aged 65 years or older, with a diagnosis of dementia or having a cognitive deficit. Ten nursing homes were randomized to either AAA with a dog or a control group with treatment as usual. In total, 58 participants were recruited: 28 in the intervention group and 30 in the control group. The intervention consisted of a 30‐min session with AAA twice weekly for 12 weeks in groups of three to six participants, led by a qualified dog handler. Norwegian versions of the Cornell Scale for Depression, the Brief Agitation Rating Scale and the Quality of Life in Late‐stage Dementia scale were used.

Results

A significant effect on depression and QoL was found for participants with severe dementia at follow‐up. For QoL, a significant effect of AAA was also found immediately after the intervention. No effects on agitation were found.

Conclusions

Animal‐assisted activities may have a positive effect on symptoms of depression and QoL in older people with dementia, especially those in a late stage. 

Date 2016
Publication Title International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume 31
Issue 12
Pages 1312-1321
ISBN/ISSN 0885-62301099-1166
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
DOI 10.1002/gps.4436
Language English
Author Address Olsen, Christine
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Agitation
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Animal-assisted therapies
  4. Cognitive disorders
  5. Dementia
  6. Depression
  7. Interventions
  8. Neuropsychology
  9. Nursing homes
  10. open access
  11. Quality of life
  12. Residential Care Institutions
Badges
  1. open access