Effect of Pet Therapy on Patient’s Anxiety in the Pediatric Emergency Department

Student Author(s)

Tara Hoover

Faculty Mentor(s)

Cassie Patel, BS, CCLS, CPST, and Susan Dunn, PhD, RN

Document Type


Event Date



Pet therapy has been proven to decrease stress in the adult patient population, but little research has been done in the pediatric population. Study of pet therapy as an intervention for anxiety in pediatric patients in the emergency department (ED) is being done in a Michigan hospital. An additional study is being conducted to determine whether or not pet ownership impacts the effectiveness of the intervention of pet therapy for anxiety. The purpose of this proposed study is to determine what outside variables might have an impact on effectiveness of pet therapy, specifically if the patient has a pet at home. Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory is the conceptual framework of the study. This theory states that elements of the environment directly affect health and care of the patient. The data collection method is an anxiety-rating tool and a patient characteristic sheet, developed by the researchers. Patients and caregivers will fill out the anxiety rating and the student nurses will collect the patient characteristic data verbally. Results will be calculated in p values with significance of less than .05 using SPSS software revealing the correlation between the state of pet ownership and the effectiveness of pet therapy intervention as evidenced by the decrease in anxiety rating between the pre and post rating of the patient and caregiver. Data will be collected from one Michigan hospital with a projected sample size of 72 participants. These participants are the patients and caregivers in for routine care to the ED. Results and conclusions of this study are not yet known. Anticipated limitations of the study are selfreporting anxiety ratings, convenience sampling and the tool lacking reliability and validity. Implications of this nursing research are revealing the underlying variables in the effectiveness of pet therapy and being able to use the results to best care for pediatric patients with anxiety.

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