Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Health Care Decisions and Delay of Treatment in Companion Animal Owners

  • Published:
Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Previous research has indicated that companion animal ownership may confer health benefits; however, no studies have considered how companion animal ownership impacts key health decisions. The purpose of the current studies was to examine the extent to which animal-related factors influence health care decision making, specifically, owners’ willingness to proceed with necessary medical treatments. In Study 1, a sample of 162 companion animal owners was recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk to complete an online survey which included measures of social support, quality of relationship with the companion animal and two vignettes describing needed hospitalization. Results suggest that nearly half of companion animal owners would consider delaying a hospitalization due to reasons related to ownership. Similarly, in Study 2, dog owners were compared to a group of non-pet owners. Dog owners were more likely to report willingness to delay medical procedures due to their pets than non-pet owners were to consider delay due to friends or family members. Owners’ health care decisions may be influenced by their relationship with their companion animal. Particularly at risk for delaying health procedures are those with lower levels of social support. While further study is needed, opportunities for intervention are considered.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Beach, S. R., Schulz, R., Yee, J. L., & Jackson, S. (2000). Negative and positive health effect of caring for a disabled spouse: Longitudinal finding from the Caregiver Health Effects study. Psychology and Aging, 15(2), 259–271.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brooks, H. L., Rogers, A., Kapadia, D., Pilgrim, J., Reeves, D., & Vassilev, I. (2012). Creature comforts: personal communities, pets and the work of managing a long-term condition. Chronic Illness, 9(2), 87–102.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, S., Mermelstein, R., Kamarck, T., & Hoberman, H. (1985). Measuring the functional components of social support. In I. G. Sarason & B. R. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory, research and application (pp. 73–94). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Dwyer, F., Bennett, P. C., & Coleman, G. J. (2006). Development of the Monash dog owner relationship scale (MDORS). Anthrozoos, 19(3), 243–256.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Enmarker, I., Hellzen, O., Ekken, K., & Berg, A. G. (2012). Health in older cat and dog owners: The Nord-Trondelag Health Study (HUNT)-3 study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 40(8), 718–724.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Faver, C. A., & Strand, E. B. (2003). To leave or stay? Battered women’s concern for vulnerable pets. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18(12), 1367–1377.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Garcia, D. O., Wertheim, B. C., Manson, J. E., Chlebowski, R. T., Volpe, S. L., Howard, B. V., et al. (2015). Relationships between dog ownership and physical activity in postmenopausal women. Preventive Medicine, 70, 33–38.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Garrity, T. F., Stallones, L. F., Marx, M. B., & Johnson, T. P. (1989). Pet ownership and attachment as supportive factors in the health of the elderly. Anthrozoos, 3(1), 35–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gurwitz, J. H., McLaughlin, T. J., Willison, D. J., Guadagnoli, E., Hauptman, P. J., Gao, X., et al. (1997). Delayed hospital presentation in patients who have had acute myocardial infraction. Annals of Internal Medicine, 126(8), 593–599.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hodgson, K., Barton, L., Darling, M., Antao, V., Kim, F. A., & Monavvari, A. (2015). Pets’ Impact on Your Patients’ Health: Leveraging Benefits and Mitigating Risk. Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, 28(4), 526–534.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hughes, R., & Huby, M. (2004). The construction and interpretation of vignettes in social research. Social Work & Social Sciences Review, 11(1), 36–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johannson, M., Ahlstrom, G., & Jonnson, A. C. (2014). Living with companion animals after stroke: Experiences of older people in community and primary care nursing. British Journal of Community Nursing, 19(12), 578–584.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Levine, G. N., Allen, K., Braun, L. T., Christian, H. E., Friedmann, E., Taubert, K. A., et al. (2013). Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 127(23), 2353–2363.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marcus, D. A. (2012). Complimentary medicine in cancer care: Adding a therapy dog to the team. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 16(4), 289–291.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Martin, S. A., Tharps, Q. J., Jackson, T. C., & Leventhal, H. (1979). Determinants of three stages of delay in seeking care at a medical clinic. Medical Care, 17(1), 11–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239–1252.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mein, G., & Grant, R. (2018). A cross-sectional exploratory analysis between pet ownership, sleep, exercise, health and neighbourhood perceptions: the Whitehall II cohort study. BMC Geriatrics, 18(1), 176. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-018-0867-3.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Merz, E. L., Roesch, S. C., Malcarne, V. L., Penedo, F. J., Llabre, M. M., Weitzman, O. B., et al. (2014). Validation of interpersonal support evaluation list-12 (ISEL-12) scores among English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanics/Latinos from the HCHS/SOL Sociocultural Ancillary Study. Psychological Assessment, 26(2), 384–394.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Polheber, J. P. (2014). The presence of a dog attenuates cortisol and heart rate in the Trier Social Stress Test compared to human friends. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 37(5), 860–867.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Safer, M. A., Tharps, Q. J., Jackson, T. C., & Leventhal, H. (1979). Determinants of three stages of delay in seeking care at a medical clinic. Medical Care, 17(1), 11–29.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Stanley, I. H., Conwell, Y., Bowen, C., & Van Orden, K. A. (2013). Pet ownership may attenuate loneliness among older adult primary care patients who live alone. Aging & Mental Health, 18(3), 394–399.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weissman, J. S., Stern, R., Fielding, S. L., & Epstein, A. M. (1991). Delayed access to health care: Risk factors, reasons, and consequences. Annals of Internal Medicine, 144(4), 325–331.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brittany Canady.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Brittany Canady and Ashley Sansone declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Canady, B., Sansone, A. Health Care Decisions and Delay of Treatment in Companion Animal Owners. J Clin Psychol Med Settings 26, 313–320 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-018-9593-4

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-018-9593-4

Keywords

Navigation