The first week the Psychology research team practiced both the control and experimental protocols for collecting data. The goal of our research is to determine whether therapy dogs have a measurable impact on family members’ stress in hospital waiting rooms.Fellow USRI members, Dr. Mitchell and his student, Brian, volunteered to be guinea pigs for our team.
We were able to practice using the pulse oximeter (which measures oxygen levels and pulse) and to prepare responses to unexpected situations that could arise when recruiting participants for our study.
However, lots of kinks were worked out and we were ready to take on the real-world hospital setting.
On the first day of data collection, our team went to Genesis East to meet up with the therapy dog teams. Dr. Trujillo introduced us to Pam and DJ and their lovable dogs: Polar the golden-doodle and Harley and Suki-Sue the shih tzus. Once acquainted, we split up and started collecting our data. One group followed the therapy dogs on their visits with patients, and the other recruited participants in the family waiting rooms.
Later that week we met our third therapy dog team, Louise and her dog Faith, the standard poodle who has a fancy poodle haircut like a lion. Each of these teams come twice a week to the hospital and have been willing to donate their time to assist us with our study.
We have been recruiting participants who are waiting on a family member who is undergoing surgery or a cardiac procedure. Once recruited, they read through our informed consent form that explains the possible risks and benefits of the study, and exactly what will consist of their participation. Then, they either go through our experimental or control protocols.
In the next two weeks we will continue to collect data at the hospital until we reach 20 participants. Soon we will be analyzing the data to determine whether the dogs were able to reduce people’s stress!
– Amber, Andie, Cierra, Lani, Kristina