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Experimental trial demonstrates effects of animal-assisted stress prevention program on college students' positive and negative emotion

By Patricia Pendry, Alexa M. Carr, Stephanie M. Roeter, Jaymie L. Vandagriff

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

In response to the growing prevalence of mental health issues among college students, campuses across the nation are implementing animal-assisted stress reduction programs, despite a clear lack of evidence supporting their efficacy. Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine the effects of a universal, campus-based, animal-assisted stress prevention program on college students' moment to moment emotion the week preceding final exams. Participants were randomized into three conditions; the experimental group engaged in a 10-minute long interaction with dogs and cats from the local humane society, the control group watched a 10-minute slide show featuring photos of the same animals, while the wait-listed group was assessed in response to waiting for 10 minutes for their turn to participate in the program. Immediately before and after the assigned intervention, participants completed a 25-item checklist assessing how content, irritable, anxious, and depressed they felt in that moment. At post-test, participants who engaged in a 10-minute interaction with live animals reported statistically significant higher levels of contentment, F(2, 181) = 9.30, p < .001, and lower levels of anxiety, F(2, 181) = 5.74, p < .01, and irritability, F(2, 181) = 5.44, p < .01, compared to students in the control and wait-listed groups. This study provides much-needed evidence in support of animal-assisted campus visitation programs, demonstrating that 10 minutes of human-animal interaction increases levels of positive emotion and decreases levels of negative emotion in college students approaching final examinations.

Date 2018
Publication Title Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 81-97
ISBN/ISSN 2333-522X
URL https://www.apa-hai.org/human-animal-interaction/haib/download-info/experimental-trial-demonstrates-effects-of-animal-assisted-stress-prevention-program-on-college-students-positive-and-negative-emotion/
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal visitation programs
  2. Emotions
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. open access
  5. peer-reviewed
  6. randomized trials
  7. Universities and Colleges
Badges
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed