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Canine Outreach Promoting Engagement

The Effect of Meaningful Activities on Students’ Attitudes Toward Cognitively Impaired Older Adults

Yordy, B. Morgan, DNP, RN; Pope, W. Stuart, DNP, RN; Wang, Chih-Hsuan, PhD

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000549
Feature Articles

Background Animal-assisted activities (AAAs) show promise in providing emotional and social benefits to older adults and may be used as a tool to promote therapeutic communication between students and cognitively impaired older adults.

Purpose The purpose was to develop a program incorporating AAAs to enhance social engagement of cognitively impaired older adults in a community respite program and in turn enhance student comfort when caring for this vulnerable population.

Methods The Dementia Attitudes Scale, a validated tool, was used to measure students’ attitudes before and after AAA intervention. Data were analyzed using repeated-measures analysis of variance.

Results Students were significantly more comfortable and demonstrated a gain in knowledge after AAAs were included in the community clinical experience.

Conclusions Incorporating AAAs into student community/service-learning clinical experience improved communication between students and cognitively impaired older adults, improving students’ attitudes when caring for this population.

Author Affiliations: Assistant Professor (Dr Yordy) and Associate Clinical Professor (Dr Pope), School of Nursing, and Assistant Professor (Dr Wang), Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology Department, College of Education, Auburn University, Alabama.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Yordy, School of Nursing, Auburn University, 710 S Donahue Dr, Auburn, AL 36849 (

Accepted for publication: April 1, 2018

Published ahead of print: June 14, 2018

Cite this article as: Yordy B.M., Pope WS, Wang CH. CanineOutreach Promoting Engagement: the effect ofmeaningful activities on students’ attitudes toward cognitively impaired older adults. Nurse Educ. 2019;44(2):102-105. doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000549

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