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Gériatrie et Psychologie Neuropsychiatrie du Vieillissement

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Impact of animal-assisted therapy on well-being in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (ELIAUT study) Volume 21, issue 4, Décembre 2023

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Authors
1 Clinical and Research Memory Center of Lyon, Charpennes Hospital, Lyon Institute For Aging, Hospices Civils de Lyon, France
* Auteur correspondant : E. Thirion

Objective

The development of non-pharmacological interventions, including animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is an encouraging method for the care of people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Methods

A single-center, randomized, single-blind, controlled intervention study was proposed to compare immediate well-being measured by a visual analog scale (EVIBE) as primary outcome between the intervention group (AAT combined with cognitive stimulation) and the control group (cognitive stimulation only) in AD patients. Secondary outcomes were explored, such as well-being after intervention (also with the EVIBE), cognitive performance (measured by Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, cognitive part GRECO version), behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Behavioral Scale-Nursing Home Version), current depressive symptomatology (with the 30 items Geriatric Depression Scale [GDS 30]) and anxiety (by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory).

Results

Forty-two patients were included, 22 in the intervention group and 20 in the control group. The mean age was 82.5 years and mean MMSE score 19.2 in the control group and 81.4 years and mean MMSE score 18.4 in the TAA group. The results show a significant effect of the intervention on well-being after four weeks (p = 0.048), but no significant effect on cognitive functioning, behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Conclusion

This study shows a small effect of TAA on well-being four weeks after the end of the intervention. The assessment of well-being by another measurement tool and the collection of observations made by the care team could be explored in future studies, which could require a larger sample and a longer follow-up.