Say It Ain't So! Animals May Not Really Help Heal Patients

I was really disappointed to read this.  But a new study has found that animals do not improve well-being and care of patients in hospitals and other places that provide healthcare, according to

"If you speak with most people they'll say it's a good thing for animals such as dogs and cats to be taken into hospitals, so that patients can derive some form of therapeutic effect from their association with the animals," the Web site quotes lead author Professor Anna Chur-Hansen, Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

But the truth of the matter is that this has just not been proven.  The study found not enough scientific data to say either way whether the presence of animals, though calming and appreciated, really do provide any actual healthcare benefits.

"The assumption is that these programs are beneficial – and from the little evidence available they are likely to be – but no-one has yet fully assessed the range of issues associated with the human-animal bond in the healthcare setting," Professor Chur-Hansen says.

(Of course, there was the cat who perched on people's beds at a nursing home right before they died, causing many NOT to want to see the cat!)

But questions remain whether it's even a good thing to have animals in a hospital. "... What risks are associated with having animals on-site among children, and what problems does it cause for disease control? What is the impact on the animals themselves, and is having animals in a hospital or hospice inappropriate for people of some cultures? These are among the many questions being left unanswered," says Chur-Hansen.

I never liked dogs until I had a child (maybe the maternal instinct just didn't kick in until then).  But now everywhere I see them, I'm holding my hand out for them to sniff and scratching them under the chin. Don't know where this came from, but I'm enjoying it.. Might even have to get one myself.


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