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Open AccessArticle

Assessing the Outcomes of an Animal-Assisted Intervention in a Paediatric Day Hospital: Perceptions of Children and Parents

1
Occupational Therapy Research Unit in Non-Pharmacological Interventions, University of A Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, Spain
2
Paediatrics Service, A Coruña University Hospital Complex, 15006 A Coruña, Spain
3
Department of Physical and Sports Education, University of A Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1788; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101788
Received: 20 August 2020 / Revised: 21 September 2020 / Accepted: 29 September 2020 / Published: 1 October 2020
Scientific evidence of the effects of intervention with dogs as a non-pharmacological distraction strategy in child hospital care is still small. In addition, the results of implementation of animal-assisted programmes at a paediatric day hospital are not known. Thus, in this pilot study, we conducted preliminary research on the efficacy of an intervention based on the use of therapy dogs at a Spanish day hospital. An intra-subject quasi-experimental longitudinal design was used. The study showed that implementation of an animal-assisted programme at a paediatric day hospital is feasible. Children and parents both gave this programme their highest satisfaction rating. The results portray a significant improvement in the child’s self-assessment of their emotional well-being. In parallel, the parents confirmed this significant improvement in the child’s mood. The research suggests that conducting an animal-assisted session just before an outpatient medical procedure is an effective approach in the promotion of emotional welfare, a compromised area for a high percentage of paediatric patients during hospitalisation periods.
There is a growing interest in the use of animal-assisted intervention (AAI) as a non-pharmacological strategy to improve child welfare in hospitals. However, the efficacy of implementation of programmes based on activities with dogs in a paediatric day hospital is not known. An intra-subject quasi-experimental longitudinal design was used for the purpose of assessing the feasibility of such an intervention, as well as exploring the perceptions of its outcomes by children and parents/guardians. A total of 55 children in outpatient care at a paediatric day hospital participated in an AAI session. The application of this intervention was feasible. Self-assessment by the paediatric patients revealed a statistically significant improvement in their emotional state after the session, which was large in size. Parents confirmed this improvement in their child, perceiving significant changes in their mood, which were large in size. This study suggests that AAI is an effective approach when it comes to promoting the emotional welfare of children during their stay in hospital care environments. Participating in recreational occupations with dogs could contribute in a relevant and efficient way to the development of significant and gratifying experiences and to a more positive perception of healthcare centres on the part of children. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal-assisted intervention; day hospital; dogs; emotional well-being; occupational therapy; outcomes; paediatric illness animal-assisted intervention; day hospital; dogs; emotional well-being; occupational therapy; outcomes; paediatric illness
MDPI and ACS Style

Ávila-Álvarez, A.; Pardo-Vázquez, J.; De-Rosende-Celeiro, I.; Jácome-Feijoo, R.; Torres-Tobío, G. Assessing the Outcomes of an Animal-Assisted Intervention in a Paediatric Day Hospital: Perceptions of Children and Parents. Animals 2020, 10, 1788. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101788

AMA Style

Ávila-Álvarez A, Pardo-Vázquez J, De-Rosende-Celeiro I, Jácome-Feijoo R, Torres-Tobío G. Assessing the Outcomes of an Animal-Assisted Intervention in a Paediatric Day Hospital: Perceptions of Children and Parents. Animals. 2020; 10(10):1788. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101788

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ávila-Álvarez, Adriana; Pardo-Vázquez, Jerónimo; De-Rosende-Celeiro, Iván; Jácome-Feijoo, Rita; Torres-Tobío, Gabriel. 2020. "Assessing the Outcomes of an Animal-Assisted Intervention in a Paediatric Day Hospital: Perceptions of Children and Parents" Animals 10, no. 10: 1788. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101788

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