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An Observational Study of Service Dogs for Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

By B. J. H. Yarborough, A. A. Owen-Smith, S. P. Stumbo, Micah T. Yarborough, Nancy A. Perrin, Carla A. Green

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Abstract

Objectives: This study examined needs related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), assistance by service dogs, and feasibility of data collection among veterans receiving service dogs. Methods: Questionnaires assessed PTSD-related needs and services performed or expected to be performed by service dogs among 78 veterans who had or were on a wait list for a service dog (average age, 42; women, 31%). Analyses compared pre-post characteristics among 22 veterans who received a service dog as part of the study (91% follow-up; average follow-up53.3762.57 months). Results: Veterans reported that the most important services performed were licking or nudging veterans to help them “stay present,” preventing panic, and putting space between veterans and strangers. High follow-up rates and improvements in outcomes with moderate to large effect sizes among recipients of study-provided dogs suggest further study is warranted. Conclusions: Service dogs may be feasible supports for veterans with PTSD; randomized clinical trials are needed to assess effectiveness.

Date 2017
Publication Title Psychiatric Services
Volume 68
Issue 7
Pages 730-734
DOI https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201500383
URL https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201500383
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Dogs
  3. Mammals
  4. open access
  5. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  6. Service animals
  7. veterans
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  1. open access