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The Impact of Owning a Guide Dog on Owners’ Quality of Life: A Longitudinal Study

By Sara McIver, Sophie Hall, Daniel S. Mills

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Individuals with visual impairments often report low quality of life (QOL), increased depression, and reduced functionality. Trained assistance dogs have been shown to help improve QOL and daily functioning of individuals affected by chronic conditions, but these studies have been largely crosssectional and QOL has not been considered in guide dog owners. A longitudinal cohort study was undertaken using the Flanagan Quality of Life Scale to compare individuals on the UK guide dog national waiting list and established guide dog owners at two time points. Data collected from both time points were compared between three groups: those who remained on the waiting list throughout the study (n = 17), those who acquired a guide dog during the study (n = 15), and established guide dog owners (n = 14). Analysis comparing the effect of “group” was conducted on individual questionnaire items as well as total quality of life scores. Individuals who acquired a guide dog during the study showed a significant increase in perceptions of independence in comparison with those who remained on the waiting list. In general, those in the established guide dog group and those who acquired a guide dog demonstrated increased perceived QOL over time, but those who remained on the waiting list showed a decrease. Owing to the small sample sizes we computed effect sizes to inform the development of future studies. Effect sizes were highest on items relating to health, material comforts, independence, and total QOL. Comparison with previous research looking at QOL with hearing dog and physical assistance dog partners showed that guide dog ownership may be specifically associated with perceived gains in terms of material comforts and inter-personal relationships.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 33
Issue 1
Pages 103-117
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2020.1694315
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Tags
  1. Assistance animals
  2. Guide dogs
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. Quality of life