Therapy dogs may help lower emergency clinicians' stress


Therapy dogs may help lower emergency clinicians' stress


Academic Emergency Medicine has published new research which shows that medical staff who work evening shifts in the emergency department benefit from reduced stress levels by interacting with a therapy dog for several minutes.

122 participants were involved in the study, in which emergency healthcare providers who were randomised to a five minute interaction with a therapy dog and handler significantly reduced self-reported anxiety. This was in comparison to participants randomised to colouring mandalas for five minutes with coloured pencils.

At the end of their shift, emergency providers had a lower level of salivary cortisol (stress hormone) with either colouring or therapy dog interactions in comparison to controls.

"Many healthcare workers and laypersons believe that dog-assisted support can improve emotional well-being in the healthcare setting, but little hard data exist to scientifically evaluate this belief, especially in emergency care," said lead author Jeffrey A. Kline, MD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine. "We provide novel data to suggest that emergency care providers enjoyed seeing a dog on shift, and received a small benefit in stress reduction after the interaction. We still do not know the extent to which the benefit was from the dog, the handler, or the combination of the two."


Jeffrey A. Kline, Kimberly VanRyzin, Jacob C. Davis, Jonathan A. Parra, Maxwell L. Todd, Liza L. Shaw, Benjamin R. Haggard, Michelle A. Fisher, Katherine L. Pettit, Alan M. Beck. Randomized Trial of Therapy Dogs Versus Deliberative Coloring (Art Therapy) to Reduce Stress in Emergency Medicine ProvidersAcademic Emergency Medicine, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/acem.13939


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