Original Article

Canine-Assisted Therapy in Hospitalized Patients Awaiting Heart Transplantation

Authors: David Snipelisky, MD, Jessica Smidt, BS, Shawn Gallup, RN, Jane Myrick, RN, Brent Bauer, MD, M. Caroline Burton, MD

Abstract

Objectives: Patients awaiting heart transplantation can be listed for prolonged periods of time and, as a result, the prevalence of anxiety and depression is high. Our study evaluates the feasibility of canine-assisted therapy (CAT) in this population.

Methods: A prospective, multicenter study was performed on all status 1a patients admitted during a 12-month period to await transplantation. Patients were asked to complete the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 at baseline, week 2, and week 6, and the Perceived Stress Scale at baseline and week 4. At the conclusion of the study, patients completed a questionnaire assessing the overall efficacy of CAT.

Results: Baseline measures demonstrated high levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. The complete Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (average score 10.9 vs 8; P = 0.14) and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (average score 12.3 vs 9.5; P = 0.057) scores decreased from baseline to week 6 and the Perceived Stress Scale (average score 29.8 vs 27; P = 0.16) decreased from baseline to week 4 with trends toward significance. All of the patients perceived CAT as improving the overall quality of hospitalization, would recommend CAT to other patients, and would elect for CAT during subsequent admissions. No infectious concerns were reported.

Conclusions: Anxiety, stress, and depression are prevalent among 1a heart transplantation candidates, and CAT is a welcomed adjunct to the usual medical care in this population.

 

This content is limited to qualifying members.

Existing members, please login first.

If you have an existing account please login now to access this article or view your purchase options.

Purchase only this article ($15)

Create a free account, then purchase this article to download or access it online for 24 hours.

Purchase an SMJ online subscription ($75)

Create a free account, then purchase a subscription to get complete access to all articles for a full year.

Purchase a membership plan (fees vary)

Premium members can access all articles plus recieve many more benefits. View all membership plans and benefit packages.

References

1. Colvin M, Smith JM, Hadley N, et al. OPTN/SRTR 2016 annual data report: heart. Am J Transplant 2018;18(suppl 1):291-362.
2. Ruzyczka EW, Milaniak I, Przybył P, et al. Depression and quality of life in terms of personal resources in heart transplant recipients. Transplant Proc 2011;43:3076-3081.
3. Dobbels F, Wernli-Fluri C, Denhaerynck K, et al. Comparison of perceived health status among solid organ transplant candidates. Clin Transplant 2010;24:660-668.
4. Spaderna H, Zahn D, Schulze Schleithoff S, et al. Depression and disease severity as correlates of everyday physical activity in heart transplant candidates. Transpl Int 2010;23:813-822.
5. Zahn D, Weidner G, Beyersmann J, et al. Composite risk scores and depression as predictors of competing waiting-list outcomes: the Waiting for a New Heart Study. Transpl Int 2010;23:1223-1232.
6. Langenbach M, Pietsch D, Kö K. Emotional stress and subjective body experience of heart transplantation candidates. Transplant Proc 2006;38:735-736.
7. Spaderna H, Smits JM, Rahmel AO, et al. Psychosocial and behavioural factors in heart transplant candidates-an overview. Transpl Int 2007;20:909-920.
8. Cunha Sdos S, Miyazaki MC, Villafanha DF, et al. Psychological assessment of patients undergoing cardiac transplant in a teaching hospital (2004 to 2012). Rev Bras Cir Cardiovasc 2014;29:350-354.
9. Zipfel S, Löwe B, Paschke T, et al. Psychological distress in patients awaiting heart transplantation. J Psychosom Res 1998;45:465-470.
10. Snipelisky D, Burton MC. Canine-assisted therapy in the inpatient setting. South Med J 2014;107:265-273.
11. Snipelisky D, Duello K, Gallup S, et al. Feasibility of canine therapy among hospitalized pre-heart transplant patients. South Med J 2016;109:154-157.
12. Levine GN, Allen K, Braun LT, et al. Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2013;127:2353-2363.
13. Zipfel S, Löwe B, Schneider A, et al. < Quality of life, depression and coping behavior in patients awaiting heart transplant]. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol 1999;49:187-194.
14. Urbanski BL, Lazenby M. Distress among hospitalized pediatric cancer patients modified by pet-therapy intervention to improve quality of life. J Pediatr Oncol Nurs 2012;29:272-282.
15. Caprilli S, Messeri A. Animal-assisted activity at A. Meyer Children’s Hospital: a pilot study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2006;3:379-383.
16. Nahm N, Lubin J, Lubin J, et al. Therapy dogs in the emergency department. West J Emerg Med 2012;13:363-365.
17. Orlandi M, Trangeled K, Mambrini A, et al. Pet therapy effects on oncological day hospital patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Anticancer Res 2007;4301-4303.