Investigating the feasibility of animal assisted intervention in a children’s clinical setting

Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) is increasingly popular within healthcare fields. One of the earliest research projects we helped to support gave Lyndsey Uglow, Lead Therapy Dog Handler at Southampton Children's Hospital, the opportunity to assess the impact of an AAI service for children in hospital.

Watch a clip about this research


What did the research achieve?

During this 12-month project three volunteer handlers with five golden retriever dogs provided AAIs across all eight paediatric wards. Interventions ranged from meet and greet to assisting nursing care, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, as well as providing distraction during blood taking and other tests including radiology examinations.

Parents and staff were then asked to complete an online survey to provide their thoughts on the AAI service. A total of 200 surveys were completed, with an overwhelmingly positive response to the service. No concerns were recorded with respect to the presence, cleanliness and behaviour of the dogs. A full 100% of survey participants recommended that similar services should be supported across the UK.


How can this research impact One Medicine?

This research was intended to inform the NHS on future use of AAI. The findings will contribute to a deeper knowledge of AAI, and help us better understand the potentially mutual benefits of animal and human interaction in this relatively new and emerging field.

The results of the project were published in the British Journal of Nursing, and a short research summary is freely accessible here:

The benefits of an animal-assisted intervention service to patients and staff at a children's hospital. Lyndsey S Uglow. British Journal of Nursing, April 2019.

The publication has already been cited by other research papers a number of times, and the research findings presented at various medical meetings. Lyndsey was also able to use some of the information when discussing AAI with the Royal College of Nursing for the ‘Working with Dogs in Healthcare Settings” guidelines.

At the beginning of 2020, Lyndsey went on to begin another research study (separate to the work supported by Humanimal Trust) to try and quantify the physiological benefits AAI can bring to patients in paediatric intensive care.


Date of funding award: 2017 [Project completed].