Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hospitals Opening Up to Pet Therapy - Prevents Deaths

My opinion:  I always knew that pets helped relieve people of psychological stress, but I think this indicates that they may be even more important than once thought.  Though the chances of dying if owning a dog aren't insanely higher, I believe these figures are still significant.  I wonder what the stats are for the people who did die - did they have other friends or family members to keep them company, and was anyone living with them?  I think this would tell if interactions with humans help, too, and if they help as much as the dog therapy.  Overall, I hope that more hospitals (not just nursing homes) will allow for these programs - I didn't know hospitals lacked them.  Maybe then they could statistically determine if these programs work even if the patient doesn't own a dog, or if long-term ownership is necessary for the best results.

From: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=216393
Kristin Callahan/MEDILL
Rou, the American pit bull, has been a therapy dog since 2008.

Rush hospital’s visitor program only the latest development in pet therapy

by Kristin Callahan
Feb 21, 2013

Kristin Callahan/MEDILL
Canine Therapy Corps is led by Beth Tap and Callandre Cozzolino.
Dogs have been called our best friends. And with good reason.

Research going back more than four decades has shown that dogs, and other pets, are good for our health. Recognizing this, Rush University Medical Center just became what is believed to be the first Chicago-area hospital to formally allow pet visits in patients’ rooms. The use of pets in medical settings is becoming more common.

In the late 1970s, researchers started to discover the scientific elements of that bond and, shortly after, one of the first studies was published.

In the 1980 issue of Public Health Reports, Dr. Erika Friedmann, professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, found that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who did not.

After a one-year period, only 6 percent of the patients who owned at least one pet had died. But 28 percent of the patients who did not own a pet had died. 

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