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Pet Ownership and Multiple Sclerosis during COVID-19

Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, Royal Derby Hospital, University of Nottingham, Uttoxeter Road, Derby DE22 3DT, UK
Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
Mental Health & Clinical Neurosciences, Clinical Neurology, University of Nottingham, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, Queen’s Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, School of Health Sciences, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ 08103, USA
Division of Rehabilitation Medicine, Florence Nightingale Community Hospital, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, London Road, Derby DE1 2QY, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Hayley Christian and Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12683;
Received: 24 September 2021 / Revised: 11 November 2021 / Accepted: 27 November 2021 / Published: 1 December 2021
Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with lower quality of life, reduced social participation, and decreased self-efficacy. The COVID-19 pandemic has had documented effects on the health and wellbeing of people with and without MS. Previous research has demonstrated the positive impact pets can have for people living with long-term conditions. Objectives: To explore the rates of pet ownership and pet attachment in people living with MS and pet ownership associations with quality of life, satisfaction with social roles, and self-efficacy scores; and to explore the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on people’s perceived relationships with their pets. Materials and Methods: A postal questionnaire was distributed to members of a local MS Register and a control group of people without MS. The questionnaire assessed quality of life, satisfaction with social roles, self-efficacy, the perceived roles of pets, and pet-related concerns experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: No apparent difference in attachment to pets was found between the patient and control groups. Pet ownership and level of attachment were not associated with differences in quality of life or self-efficacy scores in people living with MS. Using multiple regression analysis, pet ownership was associated with a decrease in satisfaction with participation in social roles, but with the estimated effect being small compared to having a diagnosis of MS or being unemployed. Most participants reported that pets had positive roles during the pandemic, and the most reported pet-related concern was access to veterinary treatment. Conclusion: Pet owners both with and without MS reported subjective benefits to their wellbeing from pet ownership during COVID-19, although analysis suggested that pet ownership was associated with a reduction in satisfaction with social roles. The study had several limitations and suggestions are made for future work. View Full-Text
Keywords: multiple sclerosis; pet ownership; COVID-19; quality of life multiple sclerosis; pet ownership; COVID-19; quality of life
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MDPI and ACS Style

Oliver-Hall, H.; Ratschen, E.; Tench, C.R.; Brooks, H.; Constantinescu, C.S.; Edwards, L. Pet Ownership and Multiple Sclerosis during COVID-19. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 12683.

AMA Style

Oliver-Hall H, Ratschen E, Tench CR, Brooks H, Constantinescu CS, Edwards L. Pet Ownership and Multiple Sclerosis during COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(23):12683.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Oliver-Hall, Holly, Elena Ratschen, Christopher R. Tench, Helen Brooks, Cris S. Constantinescu, and Laura Edwards. 2021. "Pet Ownership and Multiple Sclerosis during COVID-19" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 23: 12683.

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