animal-assisted therapy, college students, nursing students, pet therapy, physiologic stress, psychological stress



  1. Delgado, Cheryl PhD, RN
  2. Toukonen, Margaret PhD, RN, AAS
  3. Wheeler, Corinne PhD, RN, CENP


Forty-eight students engaged with a therapy dog for 15 minutes during finals week to evaluate the effect on stress. Psychological (Perceived Stress Scale, visual analog scales) and physiologic stress (vital signs, salivary cortisol) measures were collected before and after the intervention. Paired t tests showed significant reductions in all psychological and physiologic measures except diastolic blood pressure. This supports animal-assisted therapy as an effective stress management strategy for nursing and other college students.