McNair Symposium

2023 McNair Research Symposium

Rosaura Hernandez

An Observational Study on the Relationship Between Stress Levels and Human-Animal Bonds Based on the Perspective of People Who Have Companion Pets

The purpose of this study was to identify differences in stress levels based on the perspective of people living in the United States regarding human-animal bonds, aiming to investigate gaps in human-animal bond implementation in the social work profession. Human-animal bonds are formed between animals and humans through natural or ongoing interactions. The researchers conducted an online survey, shared through social media platforms, and distributed paper flyers amongst adults. Using a Likert survey design, a quantitative measure was assigned to each question, ranking the participants’ experience in stress levels before and after bonding with their companion pets. The researchers hypothesized implementation of human-animal bond into the social work field as a strength-based tool could aid clients therapeutically as a supplemental component towards an established treatment plan. Relying on memory and self-report, the researchers found statistically significant differences in stress levels correlated to human-animal bonds and stress levels. Participants who had companion pets experienced lower stress levels after bonding with their companion pets, and reported an increase of stress levels if they did not have companion pets. This research identifies key areas on the implementation of human-animal bond interventions lacking in social work practice. Universities and institutions could be interested in the data collected from the research for the consideration of applying the subject of human-animal bond as an interdisciplinary study in social work programs. Such application could include elective courses in the universities, to better prepare students in applying systematic approaches into the field.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robert Luckett

Department of Clinical Health Sciences

Rosaura Hernandez's poster

Rosaura Hernandez