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Animal-Assisted Interactions to Alleviate Psychological Symptoms in Patients Receiving Mechanical Ventilation

Hetland, Breanna PhD, RN, CCRN-K; Bailey, Tanya MSW, LICSW; Prince-Paul, Maryjo PhD, APRN, ACHPN, FPCN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: December 2017 - Volume 19 - Issue 6 - p 516–523
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000391
Symptom Management Series

Mechanical ventilation is a common life-support intervention for critically ill patients that can cause stressful psychological symptoms. Animal-assisted interactions have been used in a variety of inpatient settings to reduce symptom burden and promote overall well-being. Because of the severity of illness associated with critical care, use of highly technological equipment, and heightened concern for infection control and patient safety, animal-assisted interaction has not been widely adopted in the intensive care unit. This case study of the therapeutic interaction between a canine and a mechanically ventilated patient provides support for the promotion of animal-assisted interactions as an innovative symptom management strategy in the intensive care unit.

Breanna Hetland, PhD, RN, CCRN-K, is assistant professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, Omaha.

Tanya Bailey, MSW, LICSW, is animal-assisted interaction program specialist, Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Maryjo Prince-Paul, PhD, APRN, ACHPN, FPCN, is associate professor, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

This publication was made possible by funding from grant award 4T32NR014213-04 from the National Institute of Nursing Research, a component of the National Institutes of Health. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the National Institute of Nursing Research or the National Institutes of Health.

Address correspondence to Breanna Hetland, PhD, RN, CCRN-K, 985330 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-5330 (

© 2017 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.