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The effects of group and individual animal-assisted therapy on loneliness in residents of long-term care facilities

By M. R. Banks, W. A. Banks

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Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been shown to reduce the loneliness of residents in long-term care facilities (LTCFs). In this study, we determined the relative contribution of socialization (human-human bonding) and human-animal bonding as mechanisms by which AAT reduces loneliness. Residents in LTCFs volunteering for AAT were randomized to receive AAT as individuals (Individual) or in groups of two to four (Group). Individual AAT was used as a measure of animal-human bonding, and Group AAT was used as a measure of the combination of animal-human bonding and socialization. Any greater effect of Group AAT in comparison to Individual AAT would be ascribed to socialization. Thirty-seven residents of LTCFs, who were cognitively intact, volunteered for AAT, and scored as significantly lonely on the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3), were studied. Six weeks of AAT, one 30-minute session per week, in an individual or group setting was performed, with posttesting during week five. Two residents dropped out of each group, giving us group sizes of 17 (Individual) and 16 (Group). A two-way ANOVA showed a statistically significant effect of pretest vs. posttest scores (F(1,31)=25.3, p

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 18
Issue 4
Pages 396-408
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Publisher Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)
DOI 10.2752/089279305785593983
Language English
Author Address Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Nutrition, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Washington,
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Animals
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Developed countries
  5. Emotions
  6. Geriatrics
  7. Human-animal interactions
  8. Human-animal relationships
  9. Human diseases and injuries
  10. Humans
  11. Long Term Care
  12. Mammals
  13. Men
  14. North America
  15. OECD countries
  16. Older adults
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Pets and companion animals
  19. Primates
  20. retirement homes
  21. United States of America
  22. vertebrates
  23. Washington
  24. Women
  1. peer-reviewed