You are here: Home / Journal Articles / The effectiveness of Dutch Cell Dogs in correctional facilities in the Netherlands: a study protocol of a quasi-experimental trial / About

The effectiveness of Dutch Cell Dogs in correctional facilities in the Netherlands: a study protocol of a quasi-experimental trial

By Gerdien Schenk, Hanne M. Duindam, Hanneke E. Creemers, Machteld Hoeve, Geert Jan J. M. Stams, Jessica J. Asscher

Category Journal Articles

Many former inmates recidivate, resulting in high costs for societies worldwide. Evidence based treatment practices may not work in prisons, due to detainees’ lacking motivation, impaired well-being, and an unsafe group environment. One attempt to improve social group climate and well-being is the use of Prison-based Animal Programs (PAP). Using a quasi-experimental design, the aim of the current study is to examine the effectiveness of one such PAP in the Netherlands: Dutch Cell Dogs (DCD).

Participants (N = 256) from 12 justice centers, including psychiatric, juvenile and adult facilities, will be recruited. Half of the sample (n = 128) will receive DCD training after voluntarily signing up (intervention group); The other half (n = 128) will be recruited to participate in the research and receive treatment-as-usual (TAU/Ccomparison group). Factors related to psychosocial functioning (e.g., self-esteem, empathy, self-control, life satisfaction, attention) and general therapeutic factors (i.e., therapeutic alliance, treatment motivation), expected to contribute to treatment success, will be assessed to measure the effectiveness of DCD. In addition, behavioral problems will be measured as well as recidivism rates. Questionnaires and neuropsychological tests will be employed to measure aforementioned outcome variables. Moreover, physiological data, based on heart rate and cortisol measures, will be collected to provide insight into the functioning of participants’ physiological stress response and to determine whether stress reduction occurs over time. Multimethod data collection will occur at pre-training (T1), at 1-month (halfway training/T2), at 2-months (end training/T3), and 6-months after the end of the training (follow up/T4).

This is the first study to examine the effectiveness of a widely implemented PAP in the Netherlands. Challenges associated with conducting the proposed study are typical for practice based research in correctional settings (e.g., a demanding workload of staff, lack of motivation to participate in research). Study results on the effects of a PAP will have an impact on inmates, justice centers, and municipalities across the Netherlands.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Publication Title BMC Psychiatry
Volume 18
Pages 11
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Adolescents
  2. Adults
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animals
  5. Bonds
  6. Cortisol
  7. Dogs
  8. Empathy
  9. Females
  10. Health behavior
  11. Humans
  12. Judicial system
  13. Males
  14. Mammals
  15. motivation
  16. Netherlands
  17. open access
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. Pets and companion animals
  20. prison-based animal programs
  21. Prisoners
  22. Prison programs
  23. recidivism
  24. Retrospective studies
  25. self
  26. Social Environments
  27. surveys
  28. treatment
  29. Treatment outcomes
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed