Date Presented

Spring 5-15-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Prof. Amanda Pribble

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa Jamerson

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Kicklighter


This project serves as an exploration into the current research about animal-assisted therapy in the intensive care unit (ICU) population. Incorporating more holistic treatments into the healthcare field improves patient experiences and encourages patients to have an active role in their recovery journeys. Treating both the physical and emotional needs of patients is valuable to nurses because it helps them to better view patients with unique human dignity, improve the quality of care they perform, and make the healthcare system more centered around the patient as a whole. Patients in intensive care units are more susceptible to developing health complications after discharge in a phenomenon called post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). Animal-assisted therapy has been utilized on other hospital units and shown to promote positive effects on symptoms that are congruent with PICS. This paper argues for more widespread use of animal-assisted therapy specifically in the ICU to decrease severity of PICS before the patient is discharged from intensive care. Studies are analyzed and recommendations are offered as to how animal-assisted therapy can treat symptoms of post-intensive care syndrome based on results of decreasing patient stress and pain perception, improving motor f function, enhancing communication, and encouraging participation in treatment. By adding an exciting holistic therapy to treatment plans, patients can begin to take an active role in their hospital stays–also making the healthcare environment more interactive and patient-centered.

Included in

Nursing Commons