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Pet therapy in elderly patients with mental illness


MORETTI, Francesca, DE RONCHI, Diana, BERNABEI, Virginia, MARCHETTI, Lucia, FERRARI, Barbara, FORLANI, Claudia, NEGRETTI, Francesca, SACCHETTI, Cleta, ATTI, Anna Rita


Psychogeriatrics: The Official Journal Of The Japanese Psychogeriatric Society, Volume: 11, No.: 2, Pages.: 125-129

Year of Publication



Background: To evaluate the effects of pet therapy on cognitive function, mood and perceived quality of life on elderly inpatients (mean age 84.7 years; 95.2% women) affected by dementia, depression and psychosis.; Methods: Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and 15-items Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) were administered to 10 patients (pet group) and 11 controls (control group) together with a self-perceived quality-of-life questionnaire, before and after a pet therapy intervention that lasted 6 weeks. MMSE and GDS mean scores were compared between and within groups by Student’s t-test.; Results: Both the pet group and control group improved on GDS and MMSE. Within the pet group, GDS symptoms decreased by 50% (from 5.9 to 2.7, P= 0.013), whereas mean MMSE score increased by 4.5 (P= 0.060). The between group comparison showed a positive effect of pet therapy intervention on GDS (P= 0.070). Most of the participants reported an improvement of their perceived quality of life.; Conclusions: Pet therapy is efficient in improving depressive symptoms and cognitive function in residents of long-term care facilities with mental illness.; © 2011 The Authors; Psychogeriatrics © 2011 Japanese Psychogeriatric Society.

Bibtex Citation

@article{MORETTI_2010, doi = {10.1111/j.1479-8301.2010.00329.x}, url = {}, year = 2010, month = {sep}, publisher = {Wiley-Blackwell}, volume = {11}, number = {2}, pages = {125--129}, author = {Francesca MORETTI and Diana DE RONCHI and Virginia BERNABEI and Lucia MARCHETTI and Barbara FERRARI and Claudia FORLANI and Francesca NEGRETTI and Cleta SACCHETTI and Anna Rita ATTI}, title = {Pet therapy in elderly patients with mental illness}, journal = {Psychogeriatrics} }


aged, aged, 80 and over, alzheimer disease, animal assisted therapy, animals, cognition disorders, dementia vascular, depression, female, homes for the aged, humans, italy, male, mental disorders, mental status schedule, nursing homes, psychology, psychotic disorders, quality of life, questionnaires, therapy

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease, Vascular Dementia

Types of Study

Non randomised controlled trial

Type of Outcomes

Cognition, Depression and Anxiety, Quality of Life of Person With Dementia


Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Animal / Pet Therapy