Although human–animal interactions (HAI) have been associated with health benefits, they have not been extensively studied among cancer patients nor which factors may influence HAI during cancer survivorship. Therefore, this study aims to describe pet ownership in a breast cancer cohort within 5 years post-diagnosis and to identify associated factors.
Four hundred sixty-six patients from the NEON-BC cohort were evaluated. Four groups of pet ownership over the 5 years were defined: ‘never had’, ‘stopped having’, ‘started having’ and ‘always had’. Multinomial logistic regression was used to quantify the association between the patient characteristics and the groups defined (reference: ‘never had’).
51.7% of patients had pets at diagnosis, which increased to 58.4% at 5 years; dogs and cats were the most common. Women presenting depressive symptoms and poor quality of life were more likely to stop having pets. Older and unpartnered women were less likely to start having pets. Those retired, living outside Porto, having diabetes or having owned animals during adulthood were more likely to start having pets. Women with higher education and unpartnered were less likely to always have pets. Those living in larger households, with other adults or having animals throughout life, were more likely to always have pets. Obese women had lower odds of stopping having dogs/cats. Women submitted to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and longer chemotherapy treatments were more likely to stop having dogs/cats.
Pet ownership changed over the 5 years and is influenced by sociodemographic, clinical and treatment characteristics, patient-reported outcomes and past pet ownership, reflecting the importance of HAI during cancer survivorship.