The Mataró Hospital (Maresme) has participated in the multicenter Mental-Dog study, which supports the benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for adolescents with mental health problems and demonstrates the usefulness of non-pharmacological interventions as a complement to pharmacological treatments in this type of patients.
The study aims to evaluate the degree of human-animal bond generated after several AAT sessions with admitted adolescents and among the main conclusions it stands out that, in a short period of time (generally two sessions) it is enough to establish a good bond. between dog and patient. One of the aspects most valued by adolescents is unconditional acceptance: they ensure that the animal accepts them as they are, helps them forget their problems and gives them security and confidence. In addition, the dog is able to perceive when they feel bad and consider that they make the animal feel happy.
Of the 32 adolescents who participated in the study, half suffered from an eating disorder (ED) and the rest from other diagnoses such as conduct disorder, autism spectrum disorder or depression. In general, an increase in self-esteem and a decrease in anxiety was observed, especially in patients with depression.
114 adolescents and six intervention dogs from the Itcan, Ilerkan and Animal Nature associations participated in the study, who have done therapy at the Mataró Hospital, the Santa Maria University Hospital in Lleida and the Niño Jesús University Children's Hospital in Madrid. It has also had the collaboration of Purina, of the Animal Assisted Interventions Office of the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid and the Primary Care Research Institute (IDIAP Jordi Gol) for methodological advice and analysis of results.
The Consorcio Sanitario del Maresme is a public entity formed by the Catalan Health Service, the Mataró City Council and the Maresme Regional Council, which manages the Mataró Hospital, the Antiguo Hospital de Sant Jaume y Santa Magdalena, the Residencia San José , and the basic areas of Mataró Center and Cirera Molins (in Mataró) and that of Argentona.