ARTICLES: Cardiac Rehabilitation and Physical ActivityImpact of Canine-Assisted Ambulation on Hospitalized Chronic Heart Failure Patients' Ambulation Outcomes and Satisfaction A Pilot StudyAbate, Samantha V. BS, RN, CCRN; Zucconi, Michele MSN, RN, CCRN; Boxer, Bruce Alan PhD, MBA, RN, CPHQAuthor Information Samantha V. Abate, BS, RN, CCRN Assistant Nurse Manager, Cardiac ICU and Cardiac Step Down, South Jersey Healthcare-Regional Medical Center, Vineland, New Jersey. Michele Zucconi, MSN, RN, CCRN Clinical Director, Cardiac Care Center, South Jersey Healthcare-Regional Medical Center, Vineland, New Jersey. Bruce Alan Boxer, PhD, MBA, RN, CPHQ Director of Nursing Quality/Magnet Program Director, South Jersey Healthcare, Vineland, New Jersey. Correspondence Samantha V. Abate, BS, RN, CCRN, Cardiac ICU and Cardiac Step Down, South Jersey Healthcare-Regional Medical Center, 1505 W Sherman Ave, Vineland, NJ 08360 ([email protected]). The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing: May 2011 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - p 224-230 doi: 10.1097/JCN.0b013e3182010bd6 Buy Metrics Abstract Background and Research Objective: Chronic heart failure (HF) is a prevalent and costly disease process. Early ambulation has been shown to have a positive impact on patient outcomes and length of stay. Animal-assisted therapy is a novel modality that has shown to be a safe and effective adjunct to a number of traditional treatment plans. This study sought to synergistically combine ambulation and animal-assisted therapy by using canine-assisted ambulation (CAA) to improve the ambulation outcomes of HF patients. Subjects and Methods: Sixty-nine hospitalized patients with a primary diagnosis of HF were approached to ambulate with a restorative aide. After recording their initial response, they were given the opportunity to participate in CAA (walking with a therapy dog). Initial ambulation refusal rate was compared with a historical population of 537 HF patients. Distance ambulated was recorded using a pedometer and compared with a randomly selected, 64-patient sample from the historical HF patient population, stratified by day of hospital stay. Patient satisfaction was assessed through a 5-item Likert scale survey. Results and Conclusion: The 537-patient historical HF population had an ambulation refusal rate of 28%. When offered the chance to participate in CAA, only 7.2% of the study population refused ambulation (P = .0002). Of the 69-patient study sample, 13 initially refused ambulation then agreed when offered CAA (P = .0009). Distance ambulated increased from 120.2 steps in a randomly selected, stratified historical sample to 235.07 in the CAA study sample (P < .0001). Patients unanimously agreed that they enjoyed CAA and would like to participate in CAA again. Canine-assisted ambulation is a safe and effective adjunct to an early ambulation program for HF patients. Canine-assisted ambulation may decrease hospital length of stay and thereby decrease the costs of HF care. Additional research involving CAA's application to other disease processes in various settings is warranted. © 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.