Thursday, 30 October 2008
ICAWC 2008 Presentation: Human-Animal Interaction: PhD Research Findings - Anne-Marie Wordley
Previous presentation: Animals as Therapy in Human Health - Alexandra More
It's almost time for everyone to shuffle back in after a yummy lunch and more than a bit of informal networking. They're in for a treat when they return, hearing from Anne-Marie Wordley, our most far-flung delegate, who usually makes her home in Adelaide, South Australia! With degrees in Journalism and Psychology, Anne-Marie has channelled her love of animals into a PhD research project investigating the relationships we have with companion animals and conduction a trial of an Animal Assisted Therapy programme for people with Dementia. She's presenting some of her findings here.
2:10: Anne-Marie begins with thanks to people who have assisted with her research, including Alzheimer's Australia. She will outline her method, preliminary findings, and future direction.
Anne-Marie's study has built on previous research by adding longer term observations and a control group where the dog was taken out of the equation and the differences compared.
2:15: Exploratory interviews of nursing home residents covered the benefits of pets and the feelings surrounding giving them up when going into care. The themes were recurrent: people felt a greater sense of company, love and responsibility around their pets.
Weeks 1-4 covered the baseline, then weeks 5-10 were intervention - introducing the dogs - and finally weeks 11-16 were follow up, taking the dogs away and comparing results. The sessions comprised of twice-weekly one hour group meetings. Some were also room visits for residents with limited mobility. The dogs were assessed for temperament and suitability, and the residents were able to pat and interact with the dog as the handler walked them around. There were also chair-side visits, where dogs jumped up on chairs to be within the reach of residents who could not bend to stroke them.
The Revised Memory and Behaviour Problems Checklist contained a list of observations that had to be made. The nursing home staff completed the chacklists at the end of each week and each session.
2:20: Results showed that not only were social interactions improved and memory loss and disruption reduced when the dogs were there, but that quite a lot of the progress was maintained after the dogs were removed from the situation (although they slightly increased, it was not at all back to baseline levels). In the control group there was either little difference or deterioration.
The findings are preliminary and are the results of a limited study conducted with a small sample in one nursing home. There are hopes to expand the studies and the aims are that no healthy companion animal should be destroyed for want of a home. Anne-Marie has already been to visit one organisation which rehomes retired Greyhounds to nursing homes as therapy animals.
Next presentation: Changing Behaviour Patterns - Steve Goward