Patient Opinion of Visiting Therapy Dogs in an Hospital Emergency Department

RUH-JR-Visiting Therapy Dogs

Royal University Hospital (ED)

To date there have been no studies examining whether patients want emergency department (ED) therapy dog programs. This patient-oriented study examined the opinions of patients about whether they would want to be visited by a therapy dog in the Royal University Hospital ED. Cross-sectional survey data were collected over a six week period from a convenience sample of 100 adult patients who had not been visited by a therapy dog in the ED. Most (80%) indicated they would want a visit by a therapy dog as an ED patient. A higher proportion of individuals who currently have a pet dog (95%) or identify as having lots of experience with dogs (71%) were more likely to indicate this want compared to those without a dog (90%) or little to no experience with dogs (62%). The majority were also of the opinion that patients may want to visit a therapy dog in the ED to reduce anxiety (92%) and frustration (87%) as well as to increase comfort (90%) and satisfaction (90%) and to a lesser extent to reduce pain (59%). There was no significant difference in findings by gender or age, other than a higher proportion of older adults and females identifying cultural background and tradition as a possible reason that patients may not want to be visited by a therapy dog. The findings of this study can help guide considerations for future ED therapy dog programs.


Authors: Joanne Reddekopp, Colleen Anne Dell, Betty Rohr, Barbara Fornssler, Maryellen Gibson, Ben Carey, and James Stempien

Joanne Reddekopp - maryellen.gibson@usask.ca

Preliminary data gathering/ baseline