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The Effects of Service Dogs in Patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Angie Slowik

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Background: Of the 2 million veterans that have been deployed to combat zones, 13-20% of them most likely have developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Only half of the returning combat veterans seek care, and only about 40% experience significant improvement of their symptoms of PTSD. One potentially effective intervention for PTSD has been the use of service dogs. Veterans have reported that service dogs have decreased their PTSD symptoms when they could not find relief from other PTSD interventions.

Objectives: The purpose of this literature review is to determine if service dogs decrease symptoms of depression in individuals with PTSD.

Methods: The following databases were searched: ProQuest Nursing, CINAHL Complete, SAGE, and PubMed were searched to gather sources for the integrated literature review. The keywords that were used to search the databases included PTSD, service dogs, pet therapypet intervention, veteran, and combat.

Results: Overall the research supports the use of service dogs with patients with PTSD. Several studies have concluded that through the use of service dogs, patients experience a decrease in symptoms and their quality of life has increased.

Conclusion: The U.S. government has determined that the qualitative evidence of a positive partnership between a service dog and a veteran is insufficient to provide additional programs and benefits to combat veterans with PTSD. Thus, more research is needed to fulfill this knowledge gap so that the use of a service dog can be a method to assist patients with PTSD. Additional research would help increase opportunities for grants for not-for profit organizations.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 18 August 2017
Format Pptx
URL https://via.library.depaul.edu/nursing-colloquium/2017/Summer_2017/37/
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Mental health and well-being
  4. open access
  5. Pet therapy
  6. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  7. Service animals
  1. open access