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Stern SL, Finley EP, Mintz J, Jeffreys MD, Beaver BV, Copeland LA, Seawell MD, Bridgeman CH, Hamilton AB, Mata-Galan EL, Young-McCaughan S. Adopting a Companion Dog Helps Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a Pilot Randomized Trial. Society & Animals. 2022 May 23; 23(1):1-24.
Despite significant treatment advances, many military veterans continue to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and associated symptoms, suggesting a need for new interventions. This pilot trial examined the change in psychological symptoms of 19 veterans in treatment for PTSD who were randomized either to adopt a dog immediately from a Humane Society shelter (n = 9) or to a three-month waitlist followed by dog adoption (n = 10). The dogs were companion dogs, not service animals. The investigators analyzed quantitative assessments using mixed regression models with repeated measures. All veterans also participated in periodic semi-structured interviews. The study results showed companion dog adoption to be a feasible adjunctive intervention that helped improve PTSD and depressive symptoms for most participants. These findings suggest that this is a promising approach that is worthy of further study. Keywords: animal-assisted therapy; dog; nonhuman animal; posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); veteran