Objective: We conducted an evidence-based practice review of the literature to determine whether residents of long-term care facilities who received dog-assisted therapy achieved outcomes that can positively influence quality of life, as compared to individuals who did not receive dog-assisted therapy. Methods: A comprehensive computer-aided search of the literature was conducted. A total of 61 studies were retrieved; 19 studies met the inclusion criteria. These studies were reviewed using the McMaster's Critical Review Form-Quantitative Studies. In addition, each study was assigned a numerical score based on the number of criteria met (0-100%). Results: Outcomes examined included emotional regulation, activities of daily living, communication/social, cognitive, sensory-perceptual, and motor/praxis skills. Levels of evidence found included three randomized control trials, 11 cohort studies, four before and after studies, and one single case design. Twelve of the 19 studies reported statistically significant findings of improved outcomes for residents who participated in dog-assisted therapy. Percentage of McMaster's criteria met in each study ranged from 31 to 92%. Conclusions: Though a majority of the studies found statistical significance to support the impact of dog-assisted therapy on outcomes related to quality of life, there remains a significant lack of published research within the occupational therapy literature. Occupational therapy professionals can contribute to the evolving knowledge base of this promising intervention via the use of more rigorous designs, such as randomized control trials with large sample sizes.
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