Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Developing an animal-assisted support program for healthcare employees.

Etingen B, Martinez RN, Smith BM, Hogan TP, Miller L, Saban KL, Irvin D, Jankowski B, Weaver FM. Developing an animal-assisted support program for healthcare employees. BMC health services research. 2020 Aug 3; 20(1):714.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information vaww.hsrd.research.va.gov/dimensions/

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions



Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Employee burnout and its associated consequences is a significant problem in the healthcare workforce. Workplace animal therapy programs offer a potential strategy for improving employee well-being; however, research on animal therapy programs for healthcare workers is lacking. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary impact of an animal-assisted support program to improve healthcare employee well-being. METHODS: In this mixed-methods pilot intervention study, we implemented an animal-assisted support program in a multidisciplinary healthcare clinic at a large VA hospital. The program included 20 sessions over 3?months, each approximately 1-h long. Real-time mood data were collected from participants immediately before and after each session. Participation rates were tracked in real time and self-reported at follow-up. Data on burnout and employee perceptions of the program were collected upon completion via a survey and semi-structured interviews. Differences in mood and burnout pre/post program participation were assessed with t-tests. RESULTS: Participation was high; about 51% of clinic employees (n? = 39) participated in any given session, averaging participation in 9/20 sessions. Mood (on a scale of 1? = worst to 5? = best mood) significantly improved from immediately before employees interacted with therapy dogs (M? = 2.9) to immediately after (M? = 4.5) (p? = 0.000). Employees reported significantly lower levels of patient-related burnout (e.g., how much exhaustion at work relates to interaction with patients) after (M? = 18.0 vs. before, M? = 40.0) participating (p? = 0.002). Qualitative findings suggested that employees were highly satisfied with the program, noticed an improved clinic atmosphere, and experienced a reduction in stress and boost in mood. CONCLUSIONS: Establishing an animal-assisted support program for employees in a busy healthcare clinic is feasible and acceptable. Our pilot data suggest that animal-assisted programs could be a means to boost mood and decrease facets of burnout among healthcare employees.





Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.