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Functional Outcomes in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Schizophrenia

By C. R. Chen, C. F. Hung, Y. W. Lee, W. T. Tseng, M. L. Chen, T. T. Chen

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Abstract

Deficits in cognition, physical, and social functions in adults with schizophrenia may become salient with aging. While animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can benefit physical function in older adults and improve symptoms of psychotic disorders, the effect of AAT on middle-aged patients with schizophrenia is unclear. The current randomized controlled trial aimed to explore the efficacy of AAT for middle-aged patients with schizophrenia. Forty participants were randomly assigned to either the AAT or control group. The AAT group participated in one-hour sessions with dog-assisted group activities once a week for 12 weeks. The controls participated in dose-matched, non-animal-related recreational activities. Both groups remained on their usual psychotropic medication during the trial. Evaluations included the Chair Stand Test (CST), Timed Up-and-Go (TUG) test, Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), 5-Meter walk test (5MWT), and Assessment of Communication and Interaction Skills (ACIS). The increases in CST repetitions and ACIS scores were larger in the AAT group than in the controls. The two groups did not differ significantly in MoCA scores, TUG performance, or the 5MWT. The AAT group showed a greater increase in lower extremity strength and social skills, but no improvement in cognitive function, agility, or mobility. Further research with more sensitive evaluations and longer follow-up is needed.

Date 2022
Publication Title Int J Environ Res Public Health
Volume 19
Issue 10
ISBN/ISSN 1661-7827 (Print)1660-4601
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ijerph19106270
Author Address Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Kaohsiung 833401, Taiwan.School of Occupational Therapy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 100025, Taiwan.Department of Occupational Therapy, Shu-Zen Junior College of Medicine and Management, Kaohsiung 821004, Taiwan.Department of Post-Baccalaureate Medicine, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung 804201, Taiwan.College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Pintung University of Science and Technology, Pingtung 912301, Taiwan.Department of Nursing, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Kaohsiung 833401, Taiwan.School of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences, Taipei 112303, Taiwan.Professional Animal-Assisted Therapy Association of Taiwan, Taipei 112303, Taiwan.
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Age
  2. Aging
  3. Animal-assisted therapies
  4. Animals
  5. Dogs
  6. Humans
  7. Middle Aged Adults
  8. open access
  9. Physical Condition
  10. psychiatric disorders
  11. schizophrenia
  12. Social adjustment
  13. social functions
  14. Social Skills
Badges
  1. open access