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.
|Publication Title||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|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.|
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