Pilot Study: The Effect of Individual Versus Group Animal-Assisted Therapy on Undergraduate Student Anxiety
Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) on undergraduate student test anxiety; comparing an individual AAT session to a group AAT session. AAT may be a solution for decreasing anxiety for undergraduate students. The study adds empirical knowledge to the field of AAT and student anxiety coping methods. The study question was: What is the effect of one-on-one and group Animal-Assisted Therapy sessions on undergraduate student anxiety?
Methods: This study used a convenience sample randomly assigned to either a group of 3 to 5 students (n=9) or an individual AAT session (n=10) with a certified therapy dog, using a pre-test before session implementation and a post-test following an exam the same day as the session. The dog handler was present for all sessions but did not encourage any interaction between the student and dog, to avoid altering student desired activity. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, a validated anxiety tool, was administered via an online Qualtrics form. Online consent was presented prior to the online survey and completion of the survey implies consent.
Results: Animal-Assisted Therapy appears beneficial in decreasing Solo State anxiety (p < 0.001) and Group State anxiety (p < 0.001) in undergraduate students but does not appear to affect Solo Trait anxiety (p=0.056) or Group Trait anxiety (p=0.107). No statistical significance was seen when comparing post-intervention effects on State anxiety (p=.575) and Trait anxiety (p=1.000) in 1:1 versus group sessions.
Discussion: Because AAT in our study was a short, one-time event, these results were not unexpected. One-on-one sessions vs. group sessions do not appear to affect anxiety differently in this pilot study. Due to the small participant number, further research is needed. This study will continue during Fall 2023. The implications of this study show that the ‘temporary state’ of anxiety was relieved in both session types, but the ‘general’ feeling of a participant’s anxiety did not significantly decrease.
Animal-Assisted Therapy, Canine-Assisted Therapy, Anxiety, Undergraduate, Animal Therapy, Research
Hanson, J., & Tucker, H. (2023). Pilot Study: The Effect of Individual Versus Group Animal-Assisted Therapy on Undergraduate Student Anxiety. The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/nursuht/200
Animal Studies Commons, Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Commons, Public Health and Community Nursing Commons