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Animal-Assisted Therapy and Oncology Hospice Patients

By Lauren Anderson

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Background: If there are more ways to induce comfort during hospice care, all options should be explored, which is why animal-assisted therapy (AAT) could be a viable, non-pharmacological option for oncology hospice patients.

Objectives: The aim of this research is to show that the use of AAT with oncology patients receiving hospice care will result in enhanced comfort and diminished pain. The purpose of this study is to determine the effects on pain for oncology hospice patients receiving AAT compared to oncology hospice patients who do not receive AAT.

Method: This study is performed as an integrative literature review, viewing studies performed within the last 10 years (2009-2019) in the CINAHL, PubMed, PsycInfo, and ProQuest databases using these terms: hospice, palliative, hospice care, palliative care, end of life, end of life care, pain, pain management, animal assisted therapy, pet therapy, animal therapy, oncology, cancer care and cancer.

Results: Through the integrative literature review, it is apparent that AAT is beneficial to palliative, hospice and oncology patients by decreasing stress, anxiety and depression while increasing feelings of happiness and calmness. Pain reduction using AAT is not heavily studied, however AAT shows potential in decreasing the physical pain felt by an individual.

Conclusion: AAT proves to be a potential alternative therapy resource for nurses, especially for improving psychosocial factors. The effect of AAT on pain is still mostly undetermined, but is still advantageous for nurse and patient. There continues to be a need for more research to be conducted on the effectiveness of AAT being used to reduce pain in oncology hospice patients.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 23 August 2019
Format PDF
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Hospices
  3. oncology
  4. open access
  5. Pain
  6. patients
  1. open access