• Relationship of Behavioral Interactions during an Animal-assisted Intervention in Assisted Living to Health-related Outcomes

      Friedmann, E.; Galik, E.; Thomas, S.A. (Taylor and Francis Ltd., 2019)
      In recent research involving assisted-living residents with mild to moderate cognitive impairment, a structured 12-week Pet Assisted Living (PAL) intervention led to improved physical activity (PA) and mood. Receipt of intervention is important to the efficacy of behavioral interventions. We assessed the behavioral interactions (BIs: looking at, talking to, touching, giving treats to, brushing, and walking the dog) of residents during PAL intervention sessions and evaluated their relationships to changes in PA and mood. Residents with mild to moderate cognitive impairment in seven small assisted-living facilities were randomized by facility to the 12-week PAL or reminiscing interventions. Outcomes included PA and mood. PA was assessed monthly with 24-hour actigraph and Barthel Index, and mood was assessed with the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia. Residents of four facilities (n = 22) received the PAL intervention which included bi-weekly activities designed to encourage maintenance or improvement of PA and mood. During each PAL session, participants' engagement in each BI was noted. Engagement in BIs varied between residents and over sessions. BIs were not correlated with degree of cognitive impairment. In linear mixed models, the more participants walked the dog the more their PA changed, and the more participants looked at the dog the more their moods changed (ps < 0.05). Participants varied in their engagement in BIs. Two specific BIs were related to improvements in PA and mood. Finer assessment of BIs during animal-assisted interventions may enable understanding of their relationships to specific outcomes. Copyright 2019, Copyright 2019 The Author(s).