Four-legged friends may ease patient pain

September 10, 2009
Tracey Walker

She is senior editor of Managed Healthcare Executive.

Hospital patients who receive dog visits require half the pain medication than patients who don't.

Hospital patients who receive visits from dogs require half the pain medication than patients who do not, according to researchers at Paws 4 Therapy Inc.

A case-controlled study was designed to measure the impact of animal-assisted therapy (AAT)-the use of animals to enhance therapeutic interactions and positive distractions for patients-on the use of pain medications by patients at Edward Hospital, Naperville, Ill., after total joint replacement surgery.

Patients who received AAT were matched with patients who did not receive the therapy in terms of key data elements, including surgical post-operative day, surgeon, age, gender and length of stay.

The study suggests that patients who receive AAT after their total joint replacement use less pain medication than those who do not receive AAT, particularly one to two days postoperatively.

According to Patty Kaplan, RN, BSN, president, Paws 4 Therapy Inc., and director of Edward Hospital AAT, AAT benefits include:
• Patient well-being
• Increased patient satisfaction scores
• Enhanced community imag
• Staff satisfaction, recruitment or retention
• Opportunities for fundraising