Impact of Animal-Assisted Interaction on Anxiety in Children With Advanced Cancer and Their Caregivers

Title

Impact of Animal-Assisted Interaction on Anxiety in Children With Advanced Cancer and Their Caregivers

Creator

Mahoney AB; Akard TF; Cowfer BA; Dietrich MS; Newton JL; Gilmer MJ

Publisher

Journal of Palliative Medicine

Date

2023

Subject

Child; Animals; Anxiety; article; controlled study; female; human; male; Caregivers; patient care; palliative therapy; advanced cancer; caregiver; cancer patient; cancer recurrence; Only Child; nonhuman; dog; animal experiment; animal model; feasibility study; anxiety; pediatric patient; comparative effectiveness; Animal Shells; anticipation; refractory disease; State Trait Anxiety Inventory

Description

Background: Pediatric patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers have unique psychosocial needs. Anxiety often worsens throughout treatment for both patients and parents, and, if undertreated, can cause suffering. Animal-assisted interaction (AAI) incorporates animals into patient care in a structured manner for the purpose of therapeutic benefit. Objective(s): To evaluate feasibility of incorporating AAI into patient care and to assess AAI effectiveness in decreasing patient and caregiver anxiety in pediatric patients with advanced cancer, defined by relapsed or refractory disease. Design(s): Randomized controlled study. Setting/Subjects: Participants were children (n=19) and parents (n=21) who were randomized to AAI group or usual care (UC) group. Measures: Participants completed weekly measures to assess anxiety, including the 20-question State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Result(s): Our results demonstrated feasibility of the use of AAI in children with advanced cancer. While they did not reveal a significant difference in anxiety scores over the four sessions in either group, parents randomized to the AAI group had lower STAI State subscores at initial visit in comparison to the UC group. The difference in initial STAI State anxiety scores for caregivers may indicate a positive effect of AAI in reducing anxiety surrounding appointments through anticipation of seeing a therapy dog. Conclusion(s): Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of AAI in pediatric patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers, but results are promising that participation in AAI may lessen caregiver anxiety. Clinical Trial Registration Number is: NCT03765099.

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation List Month

2023 SE3 - Oncology

Citation

Mahoney AB; Akard TF; Cowfer BA; Dietrich MS; Newton JL; Gilmer MJ, “Impact of Animal-Assisted Interaction on Anxiety in Children With Advanced Cancer and Their Caregivers,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed May 26, 2024, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/19370.