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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(9), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7090157

Undercover Dogs: Pet Dogs in the Sleep Environment of Patients with Chronic Pain

1
Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, 2–64 Corbett Hall, Edmonton, AB T6G2G4, Canada
2
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, 3–48 Corbett Hall, Edmonton, AB T6G2G4, Canada
3
Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N1N4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 28 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 September 2018 / Published: 13 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue We Are Best Friends: Animals in Society)
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Abstract

(1) Background: Chronic pain is a significant and prevalent condition in many industrialized nations. Pain and sleep’s reciprocal nature suggests that interventions to improve sleep may decrease pain symptoms. Little attention has been paid to the influence that owning a pet dog has on the pain/sleep relationship. Typical advice to remove pets from the bedroom negates the possible positive benefit of human-animal co-sleeping. Aim: To investigate pain patients’ perceived impact of pet dog ownership on sleep. (2) Methods: We carried out a content analysis of interview data focused on the impact of pet dog ownership on sleep. The qualitative dataset comes from a subgroup of participants in a larger study examining the pain patient/canine relationship. This subgroup of participants from the larger study was asked, “Does your dog have a positive or negative impact on your sleep?” The data were thematically coded using an iterative approach. (3) Findings: Codes included: companionship; physical presence/’cuddles’; routine/schedule; distraction from anxiety/worry at night; reassuring/protective presence; active intervention to keep participant safe; daytime activity to promote sleeping at night; and reciprocal concern for the sleep of the pet dog. (4) Conclusions: Pet dogs may play important roles in helping people with chronic pain achieve sleep onset and maintenance. Removing the dog to improved sleep could be counter-productive and lead to additional sleep-related issues. View Full-Text
Keywords: human-animal interaction; dog; sleep; chronic pain; content analysis human-animal interaction; dog; sleep; chronic pain; content analysis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Brown, C.A.; Wang, Y.; Carr, E.C.J. Undercover Dogs: Pet Dogs in the Sleep Environment of Patients with Chronic Pain. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 157.

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