The Effects of Dog Ownership on Coping Skills in Children with Chronic Illness
Can pet ownership have effects on coping skills in a child who has a chronic illness? Pet therapy in a children’s hospital is one aspect of the services provided to help children who have chronic illness increase their coping skills. The Stress and Coping Theory explains how humans cope with the stress and sets the foundation for a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). CCLS enhance children’s psychosocial development and coping ability when hospitalized, including transitioning back home, and to the new normal. When children leave the hospital, they are left without their pet that has helped them cope with the trauma of their critical illness while being hospitalized. The aim of this literature synthesis is to find effects of pet ownership on coping skills once they return home from the hospital. The key terms used include, coping abilities in children, chronic illness, and pet ownership. Results showed that there are significant positive, and negative effects that owning pets can have on coping skills in chronically ill children. Owning a pet can help coping skills in children with chronic illness, but the negative effects of dog ownership, such as asthma, can cause negative coping abilities by stressing the child out. Trends observed were positive effects such as increase in positivity, companionship, and joy, while negative effects were mostly allergies and asthma related conditions. In conclusion, pet ownership can have positive and negative effects on coping skills in children who have chronic illness.