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animal-assisted therapies, associate degree nursing program, biomedical technology, nursing student, psychological stress, therapy dog



  1. Hall, Deborah PhD, RN, CMSRN
  2. Duke, Gloria PhD, RN


Background: Nursing students experience stress levels that may interfere with success in rigorous nursing programs. While evidence indicates therapy dogs can decrease stress, no intervention standards exist, and outcomes are usually measured with questionnaires.


Purpose: The purpose of this research was to enhance empirical evidence supporting a campus therapy dog by explaining the therapy dog's effect on nursing student stress.


Methods: The research used an embedded mixed-methods design. Introductory-level students interacted with a therapy dog on designated days. They measured stress using a smartphone application and Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale. Focus group discussion and program graduate surveys provided qualitative data explaining quantitative results.


Results: Results supported use of a campus therapy dog to decrease nursing student stress.


Conclusions: The therapy dog's regular presence on campus may have improved student outcomes by decreasing stress and improving focus.