Staff Members' Perceptions of an Animal-Assisted Activity

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Abstract

Purpose/Objectives:

To examine the perceptions of staff members toward the implementation of an animal-assisted activity (AAA) in an outpatient regional cancer center.

Design:

Quasi-experimental, post-test design.

Setting:

An adult outpatient regional cancer center in northern California.

Sample:

34 facility staff members.

Methods:

Self-report questionnaire following four weeks of AAA visitation. Visits took place three times a week for a total of 12 visits.

Main Research Variables:

Perceptions of the AAA.

Findings:

Previous perceptions toward AAA influenced the perceptions of the visitation's efficacy. Direct and indirect interaction with the visiting AAA teams was positively associated with perceptions of the AAA. A disagreement occurred that the AAA had caused extra stress or work for staff. Enjoyment of interacting with the dog handler was not significantly different from interacting with the dog; however, it was more positively correlated to acceptance of the AAA.

Conclusions:

The study provided evidence that the AAA was generally accepted by staff members.

Implications for Nursing:

Individual staff members' perceptions of dogs and AAAs can influence their receptivity to AAA interventions. Interaction with AAA teams should be voluntary and available for patients and staff members.

Knowledge Translation:

AAA may be introduced into facilities without creating the perception of extra stress or work for staff members. Providing staff the opportunity to interact with visiting AAA teams may be beneficial for the success of such programs. The human handler in AAA teams may play a vital role in the staff acceptance of such programs.

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