Dog-Assisted Therapy in the Treatment of Chronic Schizophrenia Inpatients
Authors: Villalta-Gil, Victòria; Roca, Mercedes; Gonzalez, Nieves; Domènec, Eva; Cuca; Escanilla, Ana; Asensio, M. Rosa; Esteban, M. Elisa; Ochoa, Susana; Haro, Josep Maria; Schi-Can group
Source: Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1 June 2009, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 149-159(11)
Abstract:Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia living in long-term care units show high levels of disability. The present study aimed to assess the effectiveness of including a trained therapy dog in an intervention program applied to institutionalized patients with chronic schizophrenia. A randomized, controlled study with blind assessment was conducted. Twenty-four persons with chronic schizophrenia were randomly selected from a register that included all inpatients at Saint John of God's psychiatric hospital in Spain. Patients who agreed to participate (n = 21) were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups: one group received an intervention assisted by a therapy dog (IG+D) (12 patients), while the other received the same intervention but without a therapy dog (IG) (9 patients). The assessment items included the Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale (PANSS), the Living Skills Profile (LSP), the Brief World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQOL-BREF), and the Satisfaction with Treatment Questionnaire (STQ). Mann Whitney U tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were conducted. Patients in the IG+D group showed significant improvements in the LSP social contact score (p = 0.041), in the positive (p = 0.005) and negative symptom dimensions (p = 0.005) and total score of the PANSS (p = 0.014), and in quality of life related with social relationships (p = 0.024). Patients in the IG group showed significant positive changes in positive (p = 0.027) and general symptoms (p = 0.046) and total PANSS score (p = 0.027). No differences were found between the two groups before and after the application of the intervention. Introducing a dog into the psychosocial intervention for patients with schizophrenia produced some positive outcomes. However, the results of the study are not conclusive and must be interpreted cautiously.
Document Type: Research Article