The feasibility of a Pet Support Program in an Australian university setting

Cooke, Emily, Henderson-Wilson, Claire and Warner, Elyse 2020, The feasibility of a Pet Support Program in an Australian university setting, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, pp. 1-11, doi: 10.1002/hpja.411.

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Title The feasibility of a Pet Support Program in an Australian university setting
Author(s) Cooke, Emily
Henderson-Wilson, ClaireORCID iD for Henderson-Wilson, Claire
Warner, ElyseORCID iD for Warner, Elyse
Journal name Health Promotion Journal of Australia
Article ID hpja.411
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ
Publication date 2020-08-31
ISSN 1036-1073
Keyword(s) Australia
animal assisted therapy
health promotion
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
animal-assisted therapy
Summary Issue addressed: Internationally, universities have recognised the benefits of Pet Support Programs (PSPs). However, existing literature has predominately focused on quantitatively measuring health outcomes associated with a PSP amongst student populations. This research aimed to explore the feasibility of a PSP within an Australian university, as there is a need to explore practical considerations involved in implementation.Methods: This research used a qualitative descriptive approach. Participants were recruited via purposive snowball sampling. The sample included 17 participants across eight administrative divisions within an Australian university. Semi‐structured individual interviews were used to collect data. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.Results: Three main themes emerged from the data: Organisational Change, Program Management and Perceived Outcomes. Findings suggest several considerations from both an organisational and program level that need to be addressed prior to implementation, including the university's policies, the location and animal welfare. The main perceived outcomes were stress relief and social support. Ways to minimise risks to those who may have an aversion towards animals were also discussed.Conclusions: Participants believed implementing a PSP would be feasible in the university setting, provided all aforementioned considerations were adequately addressed. Considerations identified have the potential to act as a barrier or a facilitator depending on how they are managed.So what?: Where feasible and later implemented, a PSP could provide Australian university students and staff with an alternative means of improving mental health, providing stress relief and contributing towards the Health Promoting University framework.
Notes In press
Language eng
DOI 10.1002/hpja.411
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 1117 Public Health and Health Services
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2020, Australian Health Promotion Association
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Health and Social Development
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