A preliminary study led by researchers in the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that overall symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are lower among war veterans with assistance dogs. The pilot study was co-funded by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Bayer Animal Health.
The study was led by Maggie O’Haire, assistant professor of human-animal interaction. The pilot research project provides scientific evidence of mental health benefits experienced by veterans with PTSD who have assistance dogs.
The study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
The Organization for Human-Animal Interaction Research and Education (OHAIRE) is a research group led by Dr. Maggie O'Haire at Purdue University. It includes national and international collaborators, students, and community members working together to conduct rigorous, scientific research on the unique and pervasive effects of interacting with animals. We study many areas of Human-Animal Interaction, including companion animals, assistance dogs, assistance animals for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), animal-assisted intervention such as for autism, and animal welfare.
The OHAIRE Group is working in collaboration to evaluate the effects of assistance dogs on veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and/or military sexual trauma (MST) and their partners/spouses. Many anecdotal reports suggest that assistance dogs provide unique benefits to veterans with trauma, however there is limited empirical research on this topic. Funded by the HABRI Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation, the goal of this project is to empirically evaluate the effects of assistance dogs on military members with trauma by comparing those with trauma with assistance dogs to those receiving standard treatments, while on the waitlist for a assistance dog.
This group is currently evaluating key clinical indicators of mental health and wellness through standardized survey assessments and cortisol sampling. The long-term research goal is to evaluate the efficacy of human-animal interaction strategies to enhance the mental health and wellness of military members with PTSD and their families.