Last year, students in the SAU summer research institute did a pilot study that examined the impact therapy dogs have on stress levels of family members in hospital waiting rooms. They were able to collect data from 20 participants at Genesis East. Participants were family members of individuals having surgery or a procedure. Participants took the State Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Pet Attitude Scale, and interacted with a therapy dog. Their pulse and oxygen levels were also taken.
This year our goal was to continue on with the study and collect more data. During the past few weeks our team was able to obtain IRB approval to collect additional data at Genesis. Learning about the IRB process became a major part of our research—it is a tedious process!
We also visited different places to observe and better understand the roles of therapy, service, and facility dogs! We visited QCCAN (Quad Cities Canine Assistance Network) and Arrowhead Ranch. Visiting with the dogs and handlers was a fun and informative experience!
We also collected normative data for the Pet Attitude Scale from SAU faculty, staff, and students. We had over 600 responses! Our results showed a positive feeling towards pets, with more positive attitudes in women and in younger people.
This data can help assist us in the therapy dog study because it gives us a norm to compare the participants in our therapy dog study to. The Pet Attitude Scale is used in the therapy dog study to examine the correlation between liking pets and the effect therapy dogs have in lowering stress levels.
We hope to collect more data and continue on with this research!