Man's Best Friend: The Role of Companion Animals in the Lives of the Homeless

2.50
Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10755/621615
Category:
Full-text
Format:
Text-based Document
Type:
Presentation
Level of Evidence:
N/A
Research Approach:
N/A
Title:
Man's Best Friend: The Role of Companion Animals in the Lives of the Homeless
Other Titles:
Improving Health Using Dogs
Author(s):
Lee, Susan K.; Willson, Pamela
Lead Author STTI Affiliation:
Chi Psi
Author Details:
Susan K. Lee, PhD, RN, CNE, Professional Experience: 2015-present -- Education Consultant for Nursing, Texas Board of Nursing, Austin, Texas 2011-2015 -- Clinical Associate Professor, Texas State University, Round Rock, TX 2007-2012 -- Assistant Professor, Del Mar College; Corpus Christi, TX Contributing editor for population/community health nursing and psychiatric nursing textbooks. Awards, podium, and poster presentations for community health-related activities and education. 2014 – Grant reviewer on THECB NIG Program, Range and Distribution of Clinical Contact Hours and Transition to Practice 2013-2014 – Contributed to Texas Nurses Foundation Academic Progression in Nursing, Concept Based Curriculum Development, ADN to BSN, MSN Population Course, NIG. 2013-present -- Member of the WilCo Wellness Alliance, whose mission is to empower people to lead healthy lifestyles by promoting a safe environment through public and private initiatives. 2012- present -- Member of Texas Health Ministries Network, which is an interfaith organization committed to encouraging, supporting, and developing ministries in faith groups and communities. Author Summary: Dr. Lee has presented nationally and internationally at peer reviewed conferences to positive reviews. Dr. Lee's strengths include curriculum development, and educational strategies. She is an Education Consultant for Nursing for the Texas Board of Nursing and a public health nurse with a passion for improving health outcomes for the homeless.
Abstract:

Purpose:

It is estimated that 28,000 persons are homeless in Texas on any given night (Texas Homeless Network, 2016). Many homeless people have companion animals to fulfill social needs: friendship, while demonstrating unconditional, nonjudgmental love; and satisfying basic needs of love and self-worth (Smolkovic, Fajfar, & Mlinaric, 2012). Over the past 25 years, multiple studies demonstrated human health benefits of relationships with companion animals. Companion animals were thought to play a significant role in effecting change or providing stability to the homeless as there are psychological, physiological, and social benefits associated with having companion animals (Labrecque, & Walsh, 2011; Slatter, Lloyd, & King, 2012). Recent work with homeless veterans and their companion animals successfully demonstrated a high degree of pet attachment displayed by homeless veterans, along with difficulty in finding housing, and the veteran’s willingness to refuse opportunities for placement if companion animals were not allowed (Lee & Willson, 2016). According to Pets of the Homeless Organization (2016), two cities in Texas have shelters that accept homeless persons and their companion animals. The purpose of this project, therefore, was to expand previous work with homeless veterans in selected counties to include a sampling of the general homeless population across Texas and to describe homeless shelter administrative policy/practices for companion animals.

Methods:

Specific aims were: to determine the experiences of homeless individuals across Texas with companion animals in securing services, and to explore facilitating space for companion animals with homeless shelter administrators in selected locations across Texas. It was believed that homeless participants across Texas would demonstrate high levels of Comfort from Companion Animal Scale scores, would have difficulty finding housing, and would refuse opportunities for placement if companion animals were not allowed. Additionally, it was thought that, as homeless shelter administrators, key informants would be able to describe the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of their facility’s policy/practices for homeless individuals with companion animals.

For Aim 1, a descriptive mixed method design was used to investigate homeless Texans’ experiences with companion animals in securing homeless services. Subjects were recruited over one year through direct recruitment at homeless shelters, facilities offering free food and veterinary care for companion animals of homeless people, at soup kitchens, near churches, and in parks where the homeless congregate. A sample of 60 participants comprised of the accessible population who are male and female, English-speaking, homeless people who had no shelter other than homeless shelters, and who have companion animals, was sought and interviewed until saturation was thought to be reached. Inclusion criteria consisted of participants ages 18 years and above, with the exception of emancipated minors who were younger than 18 years of age. Exclusion criteria included people with homes, or who did not speak English.

When a potential participant indicated an interest in participating in this research project and the inclusion criteria was met, the investigator explained the purpose of the study and the interview process, including the estimated amount of time that would be spent in the interview, the steps to maintain confidentiality and to offer privacy, and how the information collected would be handled. The participant was given an opportunity to ask questions during this time. When the participant indicated he/she had no further questions, that the purpose of the study and role in the interview process was understood, oral and written informed consent form was obtained.

Data collection methods included direct observation; individual, unstructured, face-to-face interviews; and tape recordings, along with completion of a demographic questionnaire and the Comfort from Companion Animals Scale (Zasloff, 1996). The demographic questionnaire included age, sex, marital status, employment/military history, living accommodations, length of time homeless, and history of companion animal relationship. Interviews were conducted in a public area, yet out of hearing range of other people to protect confidentiality. Interviews were semi-structured with a prepared, modifiable list of broad prompts and questions that were altered as the situation warranted, gaining a better understanding of the origins and nature of issues experienced. The investigator took field notes while conducting taped sessions. The interviews were completed in one conversation, some of which lasted up to one hour.

For Aim 2, a qualitative structured interview process was applied to explore facilitating space for companion animals with homeless shelter administrators in selected locations across Texas. The Facilitator Structured Interview Guide was framed by a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Homeless shelter administrators and recruitment sites were identified by internet searches of the Texas Homeless Coalition, Texas Homeless Network, and snowballing technique. Locations were sought state-wide to encompass both large and smaller cities (i.e., Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Plano, San Antonio, Temple, and Tyler). Homeless participants were offered a $20 recruitment incentive and administrators were offered an agency donation incentive of $150. Phenomenological analysis approach was used to code the narratives looking for themes that expressed the meaning that the experience had for the participants.

Results:

Data analysis was conducted and each interview was analyzed and compared to previous interviews to reveal repeated themes and categories. Once all interviews were transcribed, compared, and analyzed, no new concepts were observed, and data saturation was felt to be achieved, a central concept was identified.

Conclusion:

Homeless persons have a strong, unyielding bond with their animal companions that over-rides personal needs. Interviews revealed that the homeless claim companion animals save their lives, help to overcome adversity, factor into the decision-making process to facing a better future, and become the impetus for wanting to move out of homelessness, thus encouraging responsibility. Further, animal companions provide unconditional love and decrease lapses into unsafe behavior, such as that associated with drugs and alcohol.

This project built on past work and was designed to address the access of Texas homeless persons with companion animals to a basic necessity of life—shelter. The benefits of companion animals to the health and welfare of individuals is established and the science will continue to grow with the use of “service animals” and “therapy animals” to improve psychological and physiological health conditions (Henry & Crowley, 2015). Through gained knowledge and understanding from this research, it is hoped policy/practices of services offered homeless persons without terminating the companion animal relationship will be formed- a future that could likely involve a service or therapy animal. As a community and primary care professional, working with culturally diverse, marginalized populations to improve living conditions and health outcomes is an on-going professional obligation and personal desire. There is a shared responsibility of Texans to ensure that men and women who are homeless have access to the quality, timely resources and are allowed to keep their companion animals.

Keywords:
Companion Animals; Health Care Policy; Homelessness
Repository Posting Date:
29-Jun-2017
Date of Publication:
29-Jun-2017
Other Identifiers:
INRC17N08
Conference Date:
2017
Conference Name:
28th International Nursing Research Congress
Conference Host:
Sigma Theta Tau International
Conference Location:
Dublin, Ireland
Description:
Event Theme: Influencing Global Health Through the Advancement of Nursing Scholarship

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.type.categoryFull-texten
dc.formatText-based Documenten
dc.typePresentationen
dc.evidence.levelN/Aen
dc.research.approachN/Aen
dc.titleMan's Best Friend: The Role of Companion Animals in the Lives of the Homelessen_US
dc.title.alternativeImproving Health Using Dogsen
dc.contributor.authorLee, Susan K.en
dc.contributor.authorWillson, Pamelaen
dc.contributor.departmentChi Psien
dc.author.detailsSusan K. Lee, PhD, RN, CNE, Professional Experience: 2015-present -- Education Consultant for Nursing, Texas Board of Nursing, Austin, Texas 2011-2015 -- Clinical Associate Professor, Texas State University, Round Rock, TX 2007-2012 -- Assistant Professor, Del Mar College; Corpus Christi, TX Contributing editor for population/community health nursing and psychiatric nursing textbooks. Awards, podium, and poster presentations for community health-related activities and education. 2014 – Grant reviewer on THECB NIG Program, Range and Distribution of Clinical Contact Hours and Transition to Practice 2013-2014 – Contributed to Texas Nurses Foundation Academic Progression in Nursing, Concept Based Curriculum Development, ADN to BSN, MSN Population Course, NIG. 2013-present -- Member of the WilCo Wellness Alliance, whose mission is to empower people to lead healthy lifestyles by promoting a safe environment through public and private initiatives. 2012- present -- Member of Texas Health Ministries Network, which is an interfaith organization committed to encouraging, supporting, and developing ministries in faith groups and communities. Author Summary: Dr. Lee has presented nationally and internationally at peer reviewed conferences to positive reviews. Dr. Lee's strengths include curriculum development, and educational strategies. She is an Education Consultant for Nursing for the Texas Board of Nursing and a public health nurse with a passion for improving health outcomes for the homeless.en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10755/621615-
dc.description.abstract<p><strong><strong>Purpose:</strong></strong></p> <p>It is estimated that 28,000 persons are homeless in Texas on any given night (Texas Homeless Network, 2016). Many homeless people have companion animals to fulfill social needs: friendship, while demonstrating unconditional, nonjudgmental love; and satisfying basic needs of love and self-worth (Smolkovic, Fajfar, & Mlinaric, 2012). Over the past 25 years, multiple studies demonstrated human health benefits of relationships with companion animals. Companion animals were thought to play a significant role in effecting change or providing stability to the homeless as there are psychological, physiological, and social benefits associated with having companion animals (Labrecque, & Walsh, 2011; Slatter, Lloyd, & King, 2012). Recent work with homeless veterans and their companion animals successfully demonstrated a high degree of pet attachment displayed by homeless veterans, along with difficulty in finding housing, and the veteran’s willingness to refuse opportunities for placement if companion animals were not allowed (Lee & Willson, 2016). According to Pets of the Homeless Organization (2016), two cities in Texas have shelters that accept homeless persons and their companion animals. The purpose of this project, therefore, was to expand previous work with homeless veterans in selected counties to include a sampling of the general homeless population across Texas and to describe homeless shelter administrative policy/practices for companion animals.</p> <p><strong>Methods:</strong></p> <p>Specific aims were: to determine the experiences of homeless individuals across Texas with companion animals in securing services, and to explore facilitating space for companion animals with homeless shelter administrators in selected locations across Texas. It was believed that homeless participants across Texas would demonstrate high levels of Comfort from Companion Animal Scale scores, would have difficulty finding housing, and would refuse opportunities for placement if companion animals were not allowed. Additionally, it was thought that, as homeless shelter administrators, key informants would be able to describe the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of their facility’s policy/practices for homeless individuals with companion animals.</p> <p>For Aim 1, a descriptive mixed method design was used to investigate homeless Texans’ experiences with companion animals in securing homeless services. Subjects were recruited over one year through direct recruitment at homeless shelters, facilities offering free food and veterinary care for companion animals of homeless people, at soup kitchens, near churches, and in parks where the homeless congregate. A sample of 60 participants comprised of the accessible population who are male and female, English-speaking, homeless people who had no shelter other than homeless shelters, and who have companion animals, was sought and interviewed until saturation was thought to be reached. Inclusion criteria consisted of participants ages 18 years and above, with the exception of emancipated minors who were younger than 18 years of age. Exclusion criteria included people with homes, or who did not speak English.</p> <p>When a potential participant indicated an interest in participating in this research project and the inclusion criteria was met, the investigator explained the purpose of the study and the interview process, including the estimated amount of time that would be spent in the interview, the steps to maintain confidentiality and to offer privacy, and how the information collected would be handled. The participant was given an opportunity to ask questions during this time. When the participant indicated he/she had no further questions, that the purpose of the study and role in the interview process was understood, oral and written informed consent form was obtained.</p> <p>Data collection methods included direct observation; individual, unstructured, face-to-face interviews; and tape recordings, along with completion of a demographic questionnaire and the Comfort from Companion Animals Scale (Zasloff, 1996). The demographic questionnaire included age, sex, marital status, employment/military history, living accommodations, length of time homeless, and history of companion animal relationship. Interviews were conducted in a public area, yet out of hearing range of other people to protect confidentiality. Interviews were semi-structured with a prepared, modifiable list of broad prompts and questions that were altered as the situation warranted, gaining a better understanding of the origins and nature of issues experienced. The investigator took field notes while conducting taped sessions. The interviews were completed in one conversation, some of which lasted up to one hour.</p> <p>For Aim 2, a qualitative structured interview process was applied to explore facilitating space for companion animals with homeless shelter administrators in selected locations across Texas. The Facilitator Structured Interview Guide was framed by a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Homeless shelter administrators and recruitment sites were identified by internet searches of the Texas Homeless Coalition, Texas Homeless Network, and snowballing technique. Locations were sought state-wide to encompass both large and smaller cities (i.e., Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Plano, San Antonio, Temple, and Tyler). Homeless participants were offered a $20 recruitment incentive and administrators were offered an agency donation incentive of $150. Phenomenological analysis approach was used to code the narratives looking for themes that expressed the meaning that the experience had for the participants.</p> <p><strong>Results:</strong></p> <p>Data analysis was conducted and each interview was analyzed and compared to previous interviews to reveal repeated themes and categories. Once all interviews were transcribed, compared, and analyzed, no new concepts were observed, and data saturation was felt to be achieved, a central concept was identified.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion:</strong></p> <p>Homeless persons have a strong, unyielding bond with their animal companions that over-rides personal needs. Interviews revealed that the homeless claim companion animals save their lives, help to overcome adversity, factor into the decision-making process to facing a better future, and become the impetus for wanting to move out of homelessness, thus encouraging responsibility. Further, animal companions provide unconditional love and decrease lapses into unsafe behavior, such as that associated with drugs and alcohol.</p> <p>This project built on past work and was designed to address the access of Texas homeless persons with companion animals to a basic necessity of life—shelter. The benefits of companion animals to the health and welfare of individuals is established and the science will continue to grow with the use of “service animals” and “therapy animals” to improve psychological and physiological health conditions (Henry & Crowley, 2015). Through gained knowledge and understanding from this research, it is hoped policy/practices of services offered homeless persons without terminating the companion animal relationship will be formed- a future that could likely involve a service or therapy animal. As a community and primary care professional, working with culturally diverse, marginalized populations to improve living conditions and health outcomes is an on-going professional obligation and personal desire. There is a shared responsibility of Texans to ensure that men and women who are homeless have access to the quality, timely resources and are allowed to keep their companion animals.</p>en
dc.subjectCompanion Animalsen
dc.subjectHealth Care Policyen
dc.subjectHomelessnessen
dc.date.available2017-06-29T20:36:53Z-
dc.date.issued2017-06-29-
dc.date.accessioned2017-06-29T20:36:53Z-
dc.conference.date2017en
dc.conference.name28th International Nursing Research Congressen
dc.conference.hostSigma Theta Tau Internationalen
dc.conference.locationDublin, Irelanden
dc.descriptionEvent Theme: Influencing Global Health Through the Advancement of Nursing Scholarshipen
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