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Poster F114

Pet the Pain Away: Can Therapy Dogs Mitigate Pain Perception

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Madison Lindsey1, Alexandra Roach1; 1University of South Carolina Aiken

Alternative, nonpharmacological pain management therapies are currently being used in lieu of opioids and other analgesics and may provide meaningful improvement of pain perception for acute pain. However, to date there is little research being conducted on the effectiveness of such interventions on subjective and physiological measures. We investigated the efficacy of therapy dogs to reduce the severity of subjective pain ratings using the cold pressor task. In collaboration with the American Therapy Dog Alliance, we were able to use trained and licensed German Shorthair pointer therapy dogs in our experimental condition, accompanied by their handlers. Pilot data from a within-subjects design (n=7) indicated that subjective pain ratings were lower when participants pet a therapy dog while submerging their hand in 50° F water compared to when they did not have a therapy dog (p = .033). To expand upon our findings, we have conducted a follow-up study which includes physiological recordings collected using the BioNomadix wearable wireless physiology system. Participants submerged their hand in water and were outfitted with transducers for EDA to measure skin conductance, EMG to measure muscle tension, ECG for heart rate, as well as transducers for pulse and respiration data, using BioNomadix Transmitters and Data Logger. Data will be analyzed using BIOPAC AcqKnowledge 5.0 software to test for clinically meaningful differences in subjective and physiological measures of pain and allostatic load with and without the use of a therapy dog.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024