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The Effects of a Therapy Dog on the Blood Pressure and Heart Rate of Older Residents in a Nursing Home
University of Skövde, School of Health and Education. University of Skövde, Health and Education. (Translationell medicin (TRIM), Translational Medicine)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0987-8357
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, Sweden.
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, Sweden.
Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine and Diabetes Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
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2018 (English)In: Anthrozoos, ISSN 0892-7936, E-ISSN 1753-0377, Vol. 31, no 5, p. 567-576Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present project was to investigate whether repeated visits by a therapy dog to nursing homes might affect the older residents’ systolic blood pressure and heart rate. A secondary aim was to investigate and compare effects (differences in responses) in older people with high and normal systolic blood pressure. The project consisted of two consecutive studies; the dog study (two researchers and a therapy dog with a handler visited the residents at three nursing homes, n = 13), and the controlstudy (the two researchers alone visited the residents at three different nursinghomes, n = 13). The studies were divided into three periods; period 1(weeks 1–2), period 2 (weeks 3–4), and period 3 (weeks 5–6) and included two visits per week. The dog and her handler visited during periods 2 and 3 in the dog study. Participants’ heart rate and blood pressure were measured at 0 and 20 minutes at each visit. The data were analyzed using Friedman’s twowayanalysis of Variance by Rank with post-hoc analysis using Wilcoxonsigned-rank tests with a Bonferroni correction, and also with the mann-Whitney U test for independent samples. In the dog study, participants’ heartrate decreased significantly (p = 0.006) from period 1 to period 3. Participants with an initial systolic blood pressure ≥ 130 mmhg had a significant decreasein both systolic blood pressure (p = 0.009) and heart rate (p = 0.009). In the control study, participants’ heart rate and systolic blood pressure did not change significantly. the participants in the dog study had a significantly lower systolic blood pressure during period 3 (p = 0.016) compared with those in the control study. In conclusion, repeated visits by a therapy dog–handler team decreased the older adults’ heart rate, and for those with high initial systolic blood pressure, blood pressure also decreased. In addition, systolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the dog group when compared with the control group.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 31, no 5, p. 567-576
Keywords [en]
heart rate, human–animal interaction, older adults, systolic blood pressure, therapy dog
National Category
Nursing
Research subject
Translational Medicine TRIM
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-16223DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2018.1505268ISI: 000445072300004Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85053562177OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-16223DiVA, id: diva2:1249678
Available from: 2018-09-20 Created: 2018-09-20 Last updated: 2018-12-03Bibliographically approved

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Handlin, LindaUvnäs-Moberg, Kerstin

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