Poster or Presentation Title

The Perceived Benefits of Therapy Dog Utilization in Athletic Training Clinics

Location

Memorial Ballroom, Hall Campus Center

Access Type

Open Access

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Start Date

7-4-2021 12:00 PM

End Date

7-4-2021 1:15 PM

Department

Athletic Training

Abstract

Context: Some evidence suggests therapy dogs can benefit workplaces, college/university settings, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. However, no studies have examined the effects or benefits of having therapy dogs in athletic training settings.

Objective: To determine athletic trainers’ beliefs and perceptions of therapy dog utilization in athletic training.

Design: Mixed method questionnaire

Setting: Online

Participants: The participants were athletic trainers (N=453) who were currently engaged in daily patient care and members of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA).

Methods: We developed a questionnaire to identify concerns and benefits of using therapy dogs in athletic training and whether or not athletic trainers would be willing to use therapy dogs in their clinics. The survey was administered using the NATA Qualtrics platform and sent to 4,000 athletic trainers. The survey questions were reviewed for content validity, clarity, and flow by two experts. The results were analyzed via a general inductive approach where we examined responses for different themes that emerged. Quotes were used for confirmability of the emerging themes. We used multiple analyst triangulation and peer review as trustworthiness techniques.

Results: A total of 453 participants responded to the survey request. The majority (56.5%) of participants agreed that having a therapy dog in the athletic training clinic would be beneficial for the mental-well being of student-athletes. Most of the participants (55.4%) were willing to use therapy dogs in their clinics. Reduced depression and anxiety, raising morale, calming and overall happiness in the athletic training clinic were themes that evolved from the survey. Becoming injured or dealing with everyday stressors can cause depression and anxiety which therapy dogs can help mitigate. Participants believed therapy dogs could increase morale among staff and the student-athletes leading to improved patient outcomes. Athletic training clinics can be stressful places because this is where most athletes come when they are injured, but having a therapy dog can bring a calming presence to the clinic. Therapy dogs can also boost happiness among the student-athletes as well as the athletic training staff by bringing a sense of joy to the clinic. The major concerns that some of the participants mentioned of having a therapy dog in the clinic were allergies and distraction. Some student-athletes are allergic to dogs. For others, it could cause a distraction while they are trying to do their rehabilitation program.

Conclusion: Participants believed utilizing therapy dogs in their clinics could provide great benefit to student-athletes as well as the athletic training staff. More research needs to be done on the use of therapy dogs in the athletic training setting to determine implementation strategies and best practices.

Keywords: animal-assisted intervention, mental health, reduced stress

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Debbie Bradney
Dr. Tom Bowman
Dr. Emily Evans

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Apr 7th, 12:00 PM Apr 7th, 1:15 PM

The Perceived Benefits of Therapy Dog Utilization in Athletic Training Clinics

Memorial Ballroom, Hall Campus Center

Context: Some evidence suggests therapy dogs can benefit workplaces, college/university settings, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. However, no studies have examined the effects or benefits of having therapy dogs in athletic training settings.

Objective: To determine athletic trainers’ beliefs and perceptions of therapy dog utilization in athletic training.

Design: Mixed method questionnaire

Setting: Online

Participants: The participants were athletic trainers (N=453) who were currently engaged in daily patient care and members of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA).

Methods: We developed a questionnaire to identify concerns and benefits of using therapy dogs in athletic training and whether or not athletic trainers would be willing to use therapy dogs in their clinics. The survey was administered using the NATA Qualtrics platform and sent to 4,000 athletic trainers. The survey questions were reviewed for content validity, clarity, and flow by two experts. The results were analyzed via a general inductive approach where we examined responses for different themes that emerged. Quotes were used for confirmability of the emerging themes. We used multiple analyst triangulation and peer review as trustworthiness techniques.

Results: A total of 453 participants responded to the survey request. The majority (56.5%) of participants agreed that having a therapy dog in the athletic training clinic would be beneficial for the mental-well being of student-athletes. Most of the participants (55.4%) were willing to use therapy dogs in their clinics. Reduced depression and anxiety, raising morale, calming and overall happiness in the athletic training clinic were themes that evolved from the survey. Becoming injured or dealing with everyday stressors can cause depression and anxiety which therapy dogs can help mitigate. Participants believed therapy dogs could increase morale among staff and the student-athletes leading to improved patient outcomes. Athletic training clinics can be stressful places because this is where most athletes come when they are injured, but having a therapy dog can bring a calming presence to the clinic. Therapy dogs can also boost happiness among the student-athletes as well as the athletic training staff by bringing a sense of joy to the clinic. The major concerns that some of the participants mentioned of having a therapy dog in the clinic were allergies and distraction. Some student-athletes are allergic to dogs. For others, it could cause a distraction while they are trying to do their rehabilitation program.

Conclusion: Participants believed utilizing therapy dogs in their clinics could provide great benefit to student-athletes as well as the athletic training staff. More research needs to be done on the use of therapy dogs in the athletic training setting to determine implementation strategies and best practices.

Keywords: animal-assisted intervention, mental health, reduced stress