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The aim of this quantitative study was to examine the effects animal-assisted therapy (AAT) had on people diagnosed with dementia living in a nursing home. The study examined the effects AAT had on depression, blood pressure, social interaction and how these factors impact quality of life (QOL). The study was conducted once a week for one hour on Thursdays for 6 weeks. 7 participants were included in the study and further broken down into two groups based upon their level of cognition as measured by the Mini Mental State Examination. The Beck’s depression inventory (BDI) and the World Health Organization quality of life- BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) were administered pre and post AAT sessions to measure depression and QOL. Additionally, blood pressure recordings were taken pre and post AAT sessions.

The results from the BDI and WHOQOL-BREF did not produce statistically significant data which could be attributed to the small sample size and short duration of the study. On the other hand, blood pressure recordings did produce significant data meaning AAT did have an impact on blood pressure. Additionally, clinical observations were recorded throughout the study of the participants' behaviors when interacting with the therapy dog. This study showed AAT had a positive impact on blood pressure and behaviors as witnessed by blood pressure recordings and clinical observations. Further studies should be conducted to determine how AAT impacts depression and QOL using alternative assessments that do not include self-reports such as physiological assessments.

Publication Date

Spring 4-23-2020

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Animal Assisted Therapy, Dementia, Quality of Life, Depression, Blood Pressure, Social Activity


Geriatrics | Neurology | Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Spring 2020 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences on April 23, 2020.

Animal-Assisted Therapy and Quality of Life of Patients with Dementia