Mental health disorders are a significant global health concern, with a growing need for alternative therapeutic approaches. Animal-assisted therapy has gained recognition for its potential to improve the emotional and psychological well-being of individuals struggling with these disorders.

This Capstone Benchmark proposed project explores the potential positive impact of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on patients with mental health disorders during inpatient hospitalization. The project outlines a 4-week intervention program involving 45-60 minutes sessions with dogs, which patients receive 2-3 times per week. For this Capstone Benchmark project, the selected PICOT question is: In patients with mental health disorder (P) how does the use of animal-assisted therapy (I) affect the mental health symptoms as measured by the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Assessment-Youth/Informant, and the Behavior and Symptom Identification Scale BASIS-32” (C) compared to those who don’t receive animal-assisted therapy over 4 weeks (T)?

Specifically, this project implements a structured AAT intervention, involving trained therapy dogs, for patients in inpatient hospitalization. This intervention aims to assess the impact of regular AAT sessions on patients’ mental health and overall well-being. The data and results collected are based on the Child & Adolescent Behavior Assessment- Youth/or Informant (CABA-Y/I) for adolescents and the Behavior and Symptom Identification Scale (BASIS-32, McClean Hospital & Eisen, S. V, 19) for adults. Patients who participated in the AAT program exhibited significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.

Date of publication

Fall 12-8-2023

Document Type

MSN Capstone Project



Persistent identifier



Masters of Science in Nursing-Administration