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An evaluation of the use of service dogs as a treatment adjunct for PTSD

A two year longitudinal mixed methods research program examining the effectiveness of the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) Operation K9 program, and the Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA) PTSD Assist Assistance Dog Program, which use full-time assistance dogs as a treatment adjunct for Defence veterans and emergency service personnel with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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This 2-year longitudinal mixed methods research program examines the effectiveness of the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) Operation K9 program, and the Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA) PTSD Assist Assistance Dog Program, which use full-time assistance dogs as a treatment adjunct for Defence veterans and emergency service personnel with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The proposed research project will evaluate Operation K9 and PTSD Assist programs by comparing mental health and wellbeing outcomes over 24 -months in individuals already in the program with those in a wait-list control group. The research project will also examine perceived mechanisms through which the assistance dogs impact the lives of veterans and emergency service personnel.

This project includes three sub-studies including:

1. What is the effectiveness of Operation K9 assistance dogs on suicidality in Australian veterans with PTSD: A 12-month mixed methods follow up study (Honours Student Project)

2. Assistance dogs for veterans and emergency services personnel with PTSD – family perspectives (Honours Student Project)

3. Using linguistic analysis to determine efficacy of service dogs as a treatment adjunct for Posttraumatic stress disorder: the sensitivity of linguistic analysis to detect changes in cognitive and emotional stressors.

  • Team/Investigators

    Associate Professor Miranda Van Hooff (Military and Emergency Services and Health Australia (MESHA)), Dr Ellie Lawrence-Wood (Phoenix Australia), Dr Amelia Searle (Flinders University), Marie Iannos (Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA)), Dr Craig Hansen (Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA)), Suzanne Hanna (University of Adelaide), Associate Professor Tania Crotti (University of Adelaide), Dr David Kernot (DSTG), Melissa Sherman (University of South Australia), Dr Amanda Hutchinson (University of South Australia), Holly Bowen-Salter (Military and Emergency Services and Health Australia (MESHA)), Chelsea Weatherill (Monash University), Associate Professor Libby Callaway (Monash University), Dr Em Bould (Monash University)

  • Funding Body

    Internally Funded

  • Year Commenced

    2016

  • Expected Completion Date

    June 2023

  • Contribution

    Investigator (Associate Professor Miranda Van Hooff, Marie Iannos, Dr Craig Hansen, Holly Bowen-Salter)

  • MeSH Terms

    assistance animals, dogs, intervention, PTSD, mental health, depression, anxiety, emergency service, first responder, military, veteran, trauma, family

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