Effects of a pet visitation program on the behavior and emotional state of adjudicated female adolescents
Authors: Conniff, Kathryn M.; Scarlett, Janet M.; Goodman, Shawn; Appel, Leslie D.
Source: Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1 December 2005, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 379-395(17)
Abstract:This study was designed to assess the impact of an ongoing pet visitation program on the behavior and emotional state of adjudicated female adolescents at a medium secure residential facility over an eight-week period. To our knowledge, this study is the first randomized trial with a pretest-posttest design aimed at determining whether unstructured animal-assisted activities (AAA) have a positive impact on this unique population of adolescents. Using a random number table, 23 residents were randomly assigned to participate either in the pet visitation program (n = 13) or the facility's usual activities (n = 10). The program entailed weekly one-hour sessions during which participants were involved in activities such as grooming the animals, giving commands, playing fetch, and talking to the animals' handlers. To assess the program's effects on participants' behavior and emotional state, two quantitative instruments, the Youth Self-Report for Ages 11–18 (YSR) and the Resident Behavior Assessment (RBA), and a qualitative survey (designed by the researchers) were administered to the participants both prior to the pet visitation program and following its completion.
Results from the two quantitative measures suggested that the pet visitation program did not have a significant effect on the behavior or emotional state of the pet visitation participants. Qualitative results indicated that most of the participants enjoyed some aspect of the pet visitation program. In light of the small sample size and the unanticipated difficulties encountered in the conduct of the study, this research should be considered a pilot study. The limitations inherent to studying the effects of AAA programs in adjudicated adolescents are discussed.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2005