Danielle Stephens-Lewis from the University of Gloucester, UK has recently been awarded £9,924 by SCAS to study the role of canine companionship plays in alleviating the symptoms of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). We very much look forward to sharing the results of this study!
This is one of six pump priming grants that were awarded from the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) 2022 funding round.
Canine companionship has been found to benefit human physical health, as well as alleviate anxiety and depression. Such benefits are also echoed among individuals with long term conditions, with reports of better pain management among those with canine companionship. However, results are inconsistent with level of bonding, human characteristics and perceived appropriate canine behaviour seemingly impacting such benefits.
Nonetheless, one particular condition where such companionship may prove beneficial is Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). Considered a rare condition with an array of symptomology, EDS currently has no clear treatment or cure. As such, pain and psychological management are key targets for long-term management. Subsequently, this research project proposed two studies in aim of considering the impact of canine companionship on the health outcomes of those diagnosed with EDS. A quantitative survey will assess multiple aspects of human health and wellbeing, across those who do and do not have canine companions. Additionally, individual characteristics, attachment type and perceived canine behaviours will also be assessed. This will be followed by interviews with participants diagnosed with EDS as well as having a canine companion for a minimum of a year. Interviews will be completed in exploring the benefits and challenges associated with living with the condition, and how canine companionship may have impacted this.
In addition to providing further insight into the underexplored area of human-canine bonding, completion of this research will enable the identification of possibilities for intervention in the management of physical and psychological health outcomes, whilst providing more nuanced understanding of the impact of canine companionship and behaviour on human health and wellbeing, and canine welfare.