Pets and their role in managing a long term condition

A research study from GM CLAHRC People with Long Term Conditions (Patients) Research Theme has found that interactions and relationships with pets can be beneficial to patients living with long term conditions.

Three hundred study participants were selected from diabetes and chronic heart disease registers from GP practices across Greater Manchester. They were asked to complete questionnaires and to be interviewed to explore their personal activity, relationships and the impact any pets had on their lifestyle especially in terms of managing their long-term condition.

The study found that 19% of participants identified at least one pet within their social or family network. They said that these pets contributed to their wellbeing by helping them to manage their emotions and enhancing their sense of self identity and, to a lesser extent, helping them with everyday practical tasks.

It also revealed that having a pet helped people living with long term conditions mediate more social relationships in domestic and community settings which in turn contributed to their overall wellbeing.

Professor Anne Rogers, Theme Lead for the People with Long Term Conditions Research Theme said: “The findings of our research shows that pets and people develop unique relationships with one another that do not simply substitute for other forms of care people get from family members or health professionals.  Our research shows  not only the importance of pets in supporting people with a chronic condition – particularly in providing emotional support – but shows how they can help by connecting people to other resources and people in the community”.

“The study has potential implications for further social contextual analysis of chronic illness in terms of understanding the relationships, the meaning and the role of companion animals in long-term condition management. In addition we can consider how health policy makers and commissioners think about the types and location of support available for patients with chronic illness.”

Read the published study here.