Fido in the Hospital
Child- life therapy programs and pet therapy programs involve the use of both enriching activities and animals ( mainly dogs ) to not only provide a distraction, but emotional support to hospitalized children. How well these therapies work, however, has never been tested.
Purpose of the Investigation
Children who must endure hospitalization and recurring illness are subjected to not only major amounts of stress, but also a separation from the comforts of home to an alien world of needles, medication, and bed rest. Play is one way that all children deal with conflict in their life and it allows children to deal with anxiety, externalize problems and conflicts, and go from passive to active roles. Play can act as a diversion from stress and it can also allow a child to allow control over situations by allowing choices. This is especially important for hospitalized children because it can compensate for a deficiency in control in other areas of their hospitalization.
There has been some research into the therapeutic use of animals but there is a lack of investigation into the social, emotional, or psychologic impact of animals on hospitalized children, and the comparison of play therapy versus pet therapy.
How the Investigation was Carried Out
A sample of seventy children was used from the population of inpatients at a large children's university hospital. Forty of these children participated in the child-life (play) therapy, and thirty participated in the PFT (pet) therapy. All of the children met the criteria for the experiment by having no allergies to animals, no prior traumatic incidences with animals, no
symptomatic immunosuppression, and a willingness to participate in the PFT program. The children also had to be 5 years of age or older, have the ability to answer questions, and have...