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Randomized Trial Examining Effects of Animal Assisted Intervention and Stress Related Symptoms on College Students' Learning and Study Skills

By P. Pendry, A. M. Carr, N. R. Gee, J. L. Vandagriff

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Animal Visitation Programs (AVPs) targeting college students’ stress and academic success have increased, despite limited research on academic outcomes. This randomized controlled trial (N = 349) examined the effects of incorporating levels of Human–animal Interaction (HAI) (0%, 50% or 100%) with therapy dogs in a four-week academic stress management program. Conditions included (1) Academic Stress Management (ASM) content only (0% HAI), (2) Human–animal Interaction only (100% HAI) and (3) equal combinations of ASM content and HAI (50% HAI). Intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses examined the effects of students’ risk status (N = 146; depression, anxiety, perceived stress, worry) and treatment condition on students’ learning and study strategies at posttest and follow-up. The results showed interactions between condition and risk status demonstrating higher posttest levels of WILL (i.e., anxiety, attitude, motivation) (B = 0.582, p = 0.005) and SELFREGULATION (i.e., concentration, self-testing, study aids, time management) (B = 0.501, p = 0.031) for at-risk students receiving equal combinations of HAI and content presentations. Moderation effects remained at follow-up (B = 0.626, p = 0.005; B = 0.630, p = 0.007). At-risk students receiving only HAI (100%) also showed higher levels of WILL at posttest (B = 0.481, p = 0.021) and follow up (B = 0.490, p = 0.038). University administrators should consider providing at-risk students with targeted programs with varying levels of HAI and ASM content, depending on the targeted academic outcome.

Date 2020
Publication Title International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume 17
Issue 6
Pages 18
ISBN/ISSN 1661-7827 (Print)1660-4601
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ijerph17061909
URL https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/6/1909
Language English
Author Address Department of Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.Center for Human-Animal Interaction, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Academics
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Animals
  4. Dogs
  5. Humans
  6. Learning
  7. motivation
  8. open access
  9. risk
  10. Stress
  11. students
  12. Universities and Colleges
Badges
  1. open access