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The Effect of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Nursing Student Anxiety

By Della Anderson

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College students have high levels of stress, anxiety, and loneliness (Stewart , Dispenza, Parker, Chang, & Cunnien, 2014). College campus counselors strive to combat this stress and meet student needs through creative solutions (Stewart et al., 2014). Nursing student stress has a major impact on academic performance and testing anxiety is one prominent source of that stress (Gibbons, Dempster, & Moutray, 2011). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of dogs in decreasing student anxiety at a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program prior to a medication dosage calculation exam. This study uses a convenience sample randomly assigned to a control and intervention group for assessment of anxiety levels through a pre-pre, pre, post, and post-post test using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The intervention group experienced a therapy dog intervention prior to the medication dosage calculation exam. Qualitative information was collected through open-ended questions to determine the influence of the therapy dogs on the students’ anxiety levels; this information was categorized for themes and follow-up interviews completed for the most positive and negative perceptions. Using a repeated measures one-way MANOVA, p < .05, there is a statistically significance difference between groups Wilk’s ∧ = .761, F(8, 79) = 3.103, p < .01. Qualitatively, the results were positive showing the intervention calmed and relaxed students. This adds empirical knowledge to the field of animal-assisted therapy and nursing student anxiety-coping methods.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Pages 88
Publisher University of Kansas
Department Curriculum & Teaching
Degree Doctor of Philosophy
Language English
University University of Kansas
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Anxiety
  3. Dogs
  4. Education
  5. Mammals
  6. nurses
  7. open access
  8. pedagogy
  1. open access