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Anxiety Symptoms and Sleep Disturbance in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: The Impact of Receiving and Training a Service Dog

By Diane Scotland-Coogan

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Abstract

The impact of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on our combat veterans and their families is extensive. Symptoms of anxiety and the effects of sleep disturbance have a negative impact on daily functioning (Wright et al., 2011). The presence of a dog has demonstrated a reduction in anxiety symptoms, which may have a positive influence on improved sleep (Shearer, Hunt, Chowdhury, & Nicol, 2016). The Veterans Administration (VA) has been using canines to assist combat veterans in reintegrating into civilian life, and most currently, as a part of psychological therapy (Rubenstein, 2012). This research examined the impact on combat veterans with PTSD of receiving and training a service dog using Stake’s (2006) collective case study model. Interviews were conducted with fifteen combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD participating in a 14-week program for receiving and training their own service dog. The goal of the study was to explore the veterans’ experience of the training program, as well as determine any effect on their PTSD symptoms. Symptom severity decreases were reported, which had the residual effects of decreased anxiety symptoms, sleep disturbance, and nightmares.

Date 2019
Publication Title The Qualitative Report
Volume 24
Issue 10
Pages 2655-2674
ISBN/ISSN 10520147
Publisher The Qualitative Report
Language English
Author Address Saint Leo University, Florida, USA ; Saint Leo University, Florida, USA
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Anxiety
  2. Assistance animals
  3. Case Report
  4. Dogs
  5. Mental disorders
  6. open access
  7. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  8. sleep
  9. Social sciences
  10. Symptoms
  11. training
  12. United States of America
  13. veterans
Badges
  1. open access