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Legacy in the News: Can Fido have therapeutic benefits? Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel study will find out

Portland Business Journal and The Oregonian

February 19 and 27, 2014

Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel is one of five hospitals in the U.S. that will begin a study involving young patients and their caregivers — but not of the human variety.

The first-of-its-kind clinical trial will examine how animal-assisted therapy affects stress and anxiety levels among children with cancer and their parents and guardians, as well as their health-related quality of life.

The study, sponsored by Zoetis Inc. — Pfizer’s animal health arm — and the American Humane Association, also will examine the effects the therapy has on the animals themselves.
The patient population studied will consist of children ages three through 12 who are newly diagnosed with cancer and receive regular chemotherapy or other treatments in an outpatient clinic.

About five dogs that come to Randall Children’s have been identified to participate, said Dr. Janice Olson, medical director of the Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Program at Randall Children's. She regularly prescribes pet therapy to her pediatric cancer and blood cancer patients.

“We’ve had pet therapy in our hospital a long time,” Dr. Olson said. She added that it hasn’t been used in an outpatient setting, so the study will give kids who don’t stay over night the benefit of some canine interaction.

Dr. Olson said the dogs help the kids pass the time and also comfort those who miss their pets at home. One therapy dog even performs tricks. 

Read the Portland Business Journal story.

Read The Oregonian story.

Contact: Maegan Vidal.