"My Companion Through The Pandemic": The Importance of the Human-Animal Bond During COVID-19
The COVID- 19 pandemic, due to its global biopsychosocial effects, encourages re-search regarding the promotion of health. Studies in this area concentrate on the human–animal bond as a source of physical and psychological well- being (Shoesmith et al., 2021). In this context, contradictory results have been reported, which on the one hand underline the positive influences of animal companionship on humans’ well- being (Ratschen et al., 2020), and on the other hand demonstrate contrary effects (Mueller et al., 2021). Based on inconsistent findings, the present study aimed to investigate to what extent the human–animal bond influences different psychosocial parameters (including symptoms of depression, quality of life, loneliness, and social support) on a quantitative level as well as on a qualitative level. For this purpose, animal caregivers and non–animal caregivers were surveyed online and statistically compared based on quantitative data. Additionally, the personal opinion of animal caregivers regarding the animals’ role during the pandemic was investigated using qualitative content analysis. The results show big differences between personal opinion regarding the meaning of caring for animals during the pandemic (= qualitative data) and the results of standardized measurements (= quantitative data). In this context, statistical evaluation shows no evidence that individuals benefit from the human–animal bond, and moreover, indicates that caring for an animal creates an additional burden. Nevertheless, qualitative evaluation of the personal opinion regarding the meaning of animals during the pandemic shows that most caregivers experience their animals as a positive influence on a biopsychosocial level. Looking into explanations for these results, it might be assumed that according to the “pet effect”—a term that refers to certain benefits individuals experience due to the relationship with their animals (Allen, 2003)—caregivers want to believe that their animals make life better, which is why the personal estimation of the animals’ role is positive.
|Publication Title||People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice|
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