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The Impact of Campus-Based Therapy Dogs on the Mood and Affect of University Students

By N. Peel, K. Nguyen, C. Tannous

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University students experience a high level of stress, which could potentially affect how they manage stressful situations beyond university, such as when entering the workforce. Although universities offer counseling services and various health promotion programs, there is reluctance and negative perceptions about utilizing these from students. Further research is needed to explore the effectiveness of therapy dog interventions in human interactions that is quantifiable and embraces the elements of health promotion. This study aimed to investigate the impact of therapy dog interventions on students' moods across a multi-campus university during a 2-week final examination period. Two hundred and sixty-five students participated in the study involving a multi-campus university. The intervention group and control group completed a questionnaire involving the positive affect negative affect schedule (PANAS), a 20-item scale that measures a person's affect at the time. The intervention group (n = 170) had a higher average of total PANAS scores (mean = 77.63, standard deviation = 10.975) compared to the control group (n = 95) (mean = 69.41, standard deviation = 13.442). The results were statistically significant (mean difference = 8.219, 95% CI = 5.213-11.224, p < 0.05) with a t-score of 5.385. Students who engaged with therapy dogs on campus during the examination period were more likely to have a more positive affect. The results suggest that universities should include therapy dog programs within their health promotion programs for students, as these may help improve their mood and reduce the stress associated with university examinations.

Date 2023
Publication Title Int J Environ Res Public Health
Volume 20
Issue 6
ISBN/ISSN 1661-7827 (Print)1660-4601
DOI 10.3390/ijerph20064759
Author Address School of Health Sciences, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Affect
  2. Animals
  3. Dogs
  4. Health Promotion
  5. Humans
  6. open access
  7. therapy animals
  8. Universities and Colleges
  1. open access