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Exploring the Meaning and Experience of Chronic Pain with People Who Live with a Dog: A Qualitative Study

By Eloise C. J. Carr, Jean E. Wallace, Chie Onyewuchi, Peter W. Hellyer, Lori Kogan

Category Journal Articles

Pain is a significant burden for those with chronic disease and negatively impacts quality of life, causing disability and substantial work and health-care costs. Chronic pain has been identified as one of the most important current and future causes of morbidity and disability across the world. Living with a dog has been associated with greater physical activity, less disability, more social ties to the community, and improved mental health. In this study, we sought answers to the research question, “What is the meaning and experience of chronic pain for people who live with a dog?” Using a descriptive qualitative research design, we conducted telephone interviews with 12 patients who lived with a dog, attending a tertiary chronic pain program in western Canada. Transcribed interviews were subject to thematic and interpretive analysis. Participants ranged in age from 39 to 70 years of age (average 54 years) and had experienced chronic pain for an average of 15 years. The analysis identified four themes that gave under-standing as to how people who live with a dog experience chronic pain: dog gives life meaning; dog as caregiver; dog gives emotional support; and dog provides companionship. For those experiencing chronic pain, living with a dog was reported to positively impact their quality of life, mental wellbeing, physical activity, and social interaction. For some participants, living with a dog provided a reason to live and focus on the future. For people with chronic pain, living with a dog may enhance the quality of their lives and provide support that mitigates their suffering and enables them to live a more meaningful life.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 31
Issue 5
Pages 551-565
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2018.1505267
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Chronic Pain
  2. Human-animal bond
  3. Pet ownership
  4. Quality of life
  5. Well-being