Clinical trial shows benefits of animal-assisted therapy in adult cancer patients undergoing complex cancer treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy

may improve the emotional well-being of some , according to results of a study, the first to document the of animal-assisted therapy in patients. The research was made available this week in the Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology.

The study, conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, found that patients receiving intensive multi-modal concomitant therapy and chemotherapy for gastrointestinal, head or neck cancers experienced increases in emotional well-being and quality of life when they received visits from a certified therapy dog during the course of their . Increases in emotional well-being were significant over the course of the animal-assisted visits, even as patients underwent marked and significant declines in both physical and functional well-being. The research was supported by The Good Dog Foundation, the leading provider of professionally trained, fully certified and supervised volunteer therapy dog teams; Zoetis, a leading global animal health company; and the Pfizer Foundation.

“This study is the first such definitive study in , and it highlights the merits of animal- assisted visits using the same scientific standards as we hold for the treatment itself. It the importance of an innovative environmental intervention during cancer treatment,” said Stewart B. Fleishman, MD, principal investigator and Founding Director of Cancer Supportive Services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “Having an animal-assisted visit significantly improved their quality of life and ‘humanized’ a high-tech treatment,” he said. “Patients said they would have stopped their treatments before completion, except for the presence of the certified Good Dog Foundation therapy dog and volunteer handler.”

An Emerging Role for Animal-Assisted Therapy

Identification of a creative tool to boost patients’ emotional state, especially in face of the high symptom burden for patients receiving concurrent radiation therapy and chemotherapy, underscored the value of an intervention that can be offered in centers nationally and internationally.

“Thanks to this rigorously designed study, we now have strong evidence that pet therapy is an effective tool to help patients get through challenging treatments,” said Gabriel A. Sara, MD, Medical Director, Infusion Suite at Mount Sinai Roosevelt, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“There is mounting evidence in human and veterinary medicine that the emotional bond between people and companion animals can have a positive impact of emotional and physical health,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, Zoetis group director of Companion Animal Veterinary Operations. “These new results help advance our understanding of the value of animal-assisted therapy in cancer treatment and point to the ways the oncology and animal health communities can work together in supporting cancer patients achieve the best possible treatment outcomes.”

Rachel McPherson, Executive Director and Founder of The Good Dog Foundation added: “We are excited to see the results of this peer-reviewed study, which bears out scientifically what we have seen

… Continue reading here.
Dogs News — Sciencedaily

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