Canines on Campus: A Literature Review Exploring the Effect of Canine-Assisted Therapy on Student Stress at Canadian Universities

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Title: Canines on Campus: A Literature Review Exploring the Effect of Canine-Assisted Therapy on Student Stress at Canadian Universities
Authors: Coderre, Daphne
Ing, Jessica
Date: 2018
Abstract: Background: Animal-assisted therapy has been studied and applied in a variety of settings to complement interventions in palliative care, geriatrics, and psychiatry. Recently, Canadian universities have begun to integrate canine-assisted therapy into their student services to address mental health. Studies have shown that university students are especially susceptible to elevated stress levels and poor mental health due to challenges with acclimating to student life. Objective: The objective of this literature review is to determine whether canine-assisted therapy, in comparison with no intervention, reduces stress levels in Canadian university students. Methodology: Literature search was conducted using Scopus and the following search entry: “student AND stress AND therapy AND dog.” Limits were applied to include only Canadian, English peer-reviewed articles from the last ten years. Articles lacking statistical analysis were excluded. This search strategy yielded four articles acceptable for literature review. Data from these articles was extracted and organized into a table detailing study design, sample size, results, and statistical significance. Results: Among the four articles reviewed, three observed reductions in student stress levels (p < 0.05) after participation in canine-assisted therapy while one measured lower increases in stress response (p < 0.01) when the intervention was followed by exposure to a stressor. Additionally, canine-assisted therapy also reduced homesickness due to dislike of school (p < 0.001) and attachment to home (p < 0.05), and increased social support (p = 0.032), happiness (p < 0.001), energy levels (p < 0.001), and sense of school belonging (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The results of this literature review suggest that canine-assisted therapy, in comparison with no intervention, reduces stress levels in Canadian university students. However, further study on the logistics of canine-assisted therapy (e.g., availability, dose) at Canadian universities is required to optimize its effects on student mental health.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/38571
CollectionSciences de la santé - Affiches // Health Sciences - Research Posters
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