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Quality of Life of Service Dog Partners

Milan, Robert W (2007) Quality of Life of Service Dog Partners. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Medical advances are constantly increasing survival rates of individuals experiencing traumatic accidents and infants born with disabilities. Medical advances have also significantly increased the life expectancy of individuals living with disabilities as well as the general population. Along with these factors, baby boomers are growing the elderly population. All of this will cause the number of individuals with disabilities to increase exponentially over the next several decades. Many of these individuals will need assistance to complete their daily activities. Research has shown that when applicable, assistive technology by itself is more beneficial than human assistance or a combination of both human assistance and assistive technology. Dogs are a form of technology humans have been developing for thousands of years. Also, they have lived so closely with humans for so long, they have evolved an ability to understand human cues, gestures, facial expressions, etc. Because of this, their immense loyalty, desire to please, and ability to overcome social barriers, dogs are an ideal assistive technology for some individuals with disabilities.It was hypothesized that wheelchair users partnered with service dogs would score higher on quality of life indicators than wheelchair users not partnered with service dogs. Two hundred and fourteen individuals were included in a cross-sectional study. To be included in the study, subjects had to be 18 years of age or older and use a wheelchair for 75 percent of their mobility needs. Ninety-nine subjects partnered with service dogs for at least 14 months but less than 8.5 years were compared to one hundred fifteen subjects not partnered with service dogs. Quality of life indicators were number of hours of paid and unpaid assistance, mobility, physical independence, social integration, occupation, economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, depression, and loneliness.The service dog group scored significantly higher on mobility although this group was comprised of significantly more individuals with severe disabilities and used almost significantly more hours of paid assistance. The service dog group outperformed the comparison group on nearly every other indicator although not to a significant degree. These results are similar to those in previous studies on the service dogs.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Milan, Robert
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFitzgerald, Shirleysgf9@pitt.eduSGF9
Committee MemberKelleher, Annemarieardst12@pitt.eduARDST12
Committee MemberCollins, Dianedmcst84@pitt.eduDMCST84
Committee MemberPramuka, Michaelmpramuka@pitt.eduMPRAMUKA
Date: 25 May 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 22 September 2007
Approval Date: 25 May 2007
Submission Date: 28 March 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ADL; assistance dogs; assistive technology; IADL; quality of life; service dogs; assistance dog; service dog
Other ID:, etd-03282007-161045
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:33
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:37


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