Barker, S.B., Knisely, J.S.,Schubert, C.M, Green, J.D, & Ameringer, S. (2015).The Effect of an Animal-Assisted Intervention on Anxiety and Pain in Hospitalized Children. Anthrozoos, 28 (1), 101-112.
Forty children between the ages of 8 and 18 years, who were admitted to a hospital pediatric unit, were randomly assigned to an animal-assisted intervention (AAI) or an active control condition (working on an age-appropriate jigsaw puzzle). Ratings of pain and anxiety were taken both pre- and post-condition. The Attachment Questionnaire and Family Life Space Diagram (FLSD) also were administered, and information on medications taken was recorded. A significant post-condition difference was found between groups for anxiety, with the AAI group having lower anxiety scores. However, no significant within- or between-group pre-post changes in either pain or anxiety were detected. Nearly two-thirds of the children (64%) reporting pain at baseline were receiving some type of analgesic, which may have influenced outcomes. Findings demonstrate some support that attachment may be a moderating variable: children with a secure attachment style reported lower pain and anxiety at baseline, with large effect sizes for differences in both anxiety (g = 1.34) and pain (g = 1.23). Although the AAI did not significantly reduce anxiety and pain in these hospitalized children, further investigation of the influence of analgesic use and the moderating effect of attachment style is indicated.