International Stress Awareness Week: Can animals prevent stress in university students?

This International Stress Awareness Week we take a look at some of the studies that have taken place with university students to look at the potential stress relieving effects of animal-assisted interventions on this group of people. Research in this area is vital to ensure the wellbeing of both students and animals. #InternationalStressAwarenessWeek #StressAwarenessWeek

Incorporating Human–Animal Interaction Into Academic Stress Management Programs: Effects on Typical and At-Risk College Students’ Executive Function
Patricia Pendry, Alexa Carr, Jaymie Lynne Vandagriff, Nancy R. Gee
Implementation of university-based animal-assisted stress-prevention programmes is increasing despite limited knowledge about impacts on students’ academic success. This randomised trial examined the effects of a 4-week stress-prevention program with varying levels of human–animal interaction (HAI).
Read the paper here.

BBC article: Dogs ‘prevent stressed students dropping out’
This article looks at how research from the US has shown that stress among students can be reduced by spending time with animals. Patricia Pendry, from Washington State University, said her study showed “soothing” sessions with dogs could lessen the negative impact of stress.

The study of more than 300 undergraduates had found weekly hour-long sessions with dogs brought to the university by professional handlers had made stressed students at “high risk of academic failure” or dropping out “feel relaxed and accepted”, helping them to concentrate, learn and remember information, she said. “Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,”.
Read the article here.

Sit, stay, heal: Study finds therapy dogs help stressed university students
Therapy dog sessions for stressed-out students are an increasingly popular offering at North American universities. Research from the University of British Columbia confirms that some doggy one-on-one time really can do the trick of boosting student wellness.
Read more here.

Stanley Coren has also written a blog on this study here.

Exploring Dog-Assisted Interventions in Higher Education: Students’ Attitudes and Perceived Effects on Well-Being
Cathrin Rothkopf, Silke Schworm
Both, in the transition to university and during it, students experience a multitude of different changes. Thus, it is no surprise that many students in higher education report suffering from mental health problems. To address their concerns, animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) have gained more and more attention over the past few years. Two studies were carried out to address this issue.
Read more here.

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