Effecten van zorgdieractiviteiten bij gerontopsychiatrische patiënten.
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Introduction - Research on Animal-assisted Interventions has found that these interventions have many positive effects on people with diverse disabilities. Several studies show that human-animal contact has a positive effect on the social wellbeing of elderly psychiatric patients, because animals can meet social needs and promote social interaction. In addition, there is an impact on psychological well-being, because depressive symptoms and anxiety decrease and patients are activated as a result of human-animal contact. It is important that more information about the effects of AAA becomes available, so more support for this relatively easy to implement intervention will be created. The present study, in which weekly dog visits will take place, focuses on the psychosocial effects of human-animal contact in gerontopsychiatric patients. Methods - In this study 21 gerontopsychiatric patients, institutionalized on an admission ward, are studied, in the first place by eight observations in the presence of a visiting dog and its handler. There were also two measurements while an alternative group activity. The dependent variables were: positive and negative environment-oriented interactions, positive dog-oriented interactions and eyes open versus closed. In the second place, questionnaires were administered to measure the psychosocial well-being before and after the activity, and depression before and after the series of interventions. Third, qualitative interviews with patients found place, to understand the effects of the AAA that they experienced themselves. Of six patients is a detailed case study included. Results – The effect on social functioning during the AAA is similar to the effect of other activities in the department. No effects were found of the presence of the dog on depressive symptoms and psychosocial well-being before and after the activity. The interviews show that the Animal-assisted Activities form a welcome alternative activity. Discussion – To demonstrate effects, problems in forming a large research group and forming a controlgroup should be overcomed. Further research may also pay attention to the fit between the dog/handler and the patient.