Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy
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College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department
Publication Date / Copyright Date
Nova Southeastern University
Christine Kivlen. 2020. Effect of Animal-Assisted Intervention on Graduate Students’ Perceptions of Well-being: Insights from Occupational Therapy. Doctoral dissertation. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks, College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department. (77)
Problem Statement: There is a growing concern regarding college student well-being that requires a need for implementation of cost-effective interventions addressing the increasing number of students experiencing negative mental health symptoms. Studies from medical and educational settings suggested positive mental health benefits from animal assisted intervention (AAI). Researchers studying college students exposed to animals during periods of high academic stress demonstrated successful reductions in stress and anxiety; however, researchers have not examined a specific area of dosage, including the influence of recurring AAI (more than one session) in the graduatestudent population. Furthermore, researchers have failed to include each element of dosage in their studies. Purpose: This study investigated the effects of AAI on well-being, including QOL, stress, anxiety, occupational performance, and adjustment with graduate college students. Methodology: A quantitative, experimental, within and between subjects, pre-post randomized control trial was implemented. Procedures:Recruitment included 104 participants. Participants in the experimental group engaged in a recurring weekly 35-minute AAI intervention for six weeks. Participants in the control were told they are on a waitlist and were given the opportunity to engage in the intervention following posttest data collection. Data Analyses: A one-way ANCOVA analyzed between subjects data and paired t-tests analyzed within subjects data. Graduate college students experienced a statistically significant effect in three areas of well-being, including increased QOL, decreased stress and anxiety. Students did not experience significant effects in the areas of occupational performance and adjustment to the graduatestudent role.
Animal assisted intervention, Canine assisted intervention, Graduate students, Mental health, Stress, Well-being