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Dog visits in nursing homes - increase complexity or keep it simple? A randomised controlled study

By K. Thodberg, P. B. Videbech, T. G. B. Hansen, A. B. Pedersen, J. W. Christensen

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OBJECTIVE: To compare the immediate response of nursing home residents to dog visits with or without an activity, and the impact of cognitive ability. METHODS: In a randomly controlled trial, 174 nursing home residents were allocated to 12 bi-weekly 10-minute visits: either ordinary dog visits (D, n = 57, 49 analysed), dog visits with an activity (DA, n = 56, 48 analysed), or visits with activity but no dog (A, n = 61, 54 analysed). We recorded frequency and duration of residents' verbal and physical interactions with the dog and persons. Data were analysed in three periods of four visits (period 1-3) as binomial variables (generalised linear models) or durations (non-parametric statistics). RESULTS: Both visit type and impairment level affected the likelihood of interacting with the dog (D and DA). In some periods increased cognitive impairment lowered odds of touching the dog in DA visits (period 1: F1,85 = 5.17, P < 0.05) and talking to it directly (period 1: F1,90 = 4.60, P < 0.05; period 3: F1,87 = 5.34, P < 0.05). Throughout, residents talked less to persons during DA visits compared to D and A (P = 0.01-0.05), and level of cognitive impairment correlated negatively with talk duration (P < 0.001). Generally, high cognitive impairment level lowered odds of interacting with (period 1: F1,89 = 7.89, P < 0.01; period 2: F1,97 = 6.76, P = 0.01; period 3: F1,92 = 13.57, P < 0.001) and talking about the activities (period 1: F1,89 = 13.78, P

Publication Title PLoS One
Volume 16
Issue 5
Pages e0251571
ISBN/ISSN 1932-6203
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0251571
Author Address Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.Psychiatric Centre Glostrup, Glostrup, Denmark.Center for Developmental and Applied Psychological Science, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Age
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animals
  4. Cognitive disorders
  5. Dogs
  6. Females
  7. Humans
  8. Males
  9. Nursing homes
  10. Older adults
  11. open access
  1. open access