Animal-Facilitated Therapy Program

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Outcomes from Caring Canines, a program for patients and staff on an inpatient surgical oncology unit


Animal-facilitated therapy (AFT) is a complementary medicine intervention. To the authors' knowledge, no study has investigated the benefits of an AFT program in an adult surgical oncology setting.


The purpose of this study is to assess the effects of an AFT program on patients and staff on a surgical oncology unit.


A quasiexperimental design was used for the patient group, and a pre-/post-test design was used for the staff group. The intervention involved the AFT program being fully integrated on a surgical inpatient unit. Outcomes included patient-reported symptoms and quality-of-life (QOL) outcomes for patients, as well as professional QOL for staff.


QOL indicators improved for all patients, and the level of energy at follow-up was significantly higher in the AFT group after adjusting for baseline. For staff, compassion satisfaction was high and burnout was low.

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