¶ … Pet Ownership and Health Benefits among Older Adults The internal review board is very critical for this research because the quality of the research will influence the decision of policy makers whether or not to implement the research for the benefit of the larger population.
There is a general believe that owning a pet provides health and mental benefits for older people, and health benefits include psychological well-being and improved physical health. It is also assumed that pet owners have higher extraversion and lower neuroticism compared to older people without pets. However, findings on this research are still inconclusive because some group of researchers believe that owning pets deliver health benefits to older people while some researchers believe that older people derive no benefits from owing pets. The research carries out an investigation to enhance a greater understanding on whether health benefits can derived from owing pets.
The study examines the relationships between pet ownerships and health benefits among 2,511 sample older adults using the PATH (Personality and Total Health). Information obtained from participants consisted of whether or not participants own one or more pets. The research also investigates whether they are the main carers of the pets. Other information obtained include measure of their physical health and mental health, socio-demographic attributes, personality measures that include psychoticism, extraversion, & neuroticism and, negative or positive effects of the use of medication. (Cherniack, & Cherniack, 2014).
The study also obtains information about 78.8% of participants from national insurers concerning medical services they have obtained from the GPs (General Practitioners) within the last few months before participating in the survey. The research tested the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: Older people caring or owning pets' record better physical and mental health using fewer medical or health services than older people without pets.
Hypothesis 2: Carers and pet owners have higher extraversion scores and lower neuroticism scores than older people not caring for pets.
Hypothesis 3: After considering the personality traits, pet owners record better physical and mental health than non-pet owners.
Purpose: The purpose of this research is to investigate the health benefits associated to pet ownerships from a large sample of community of older people. Therapeutic benefits of pets on human have attracted a great attention among healthcare professionals. Cherniack & Cherniack (2014) argue that the use of pet ownership for the treatment of blood pressures, schizophrenia, and depression yield mixed results among elderly people. While animal may deliver intangible mental health benefits for older people such as relief from boredom and isolation, however, the results of these assertions have not been formally delivered. A report by the National Institute of Health (1987) reveals that cardiovascular health benefits from pet ownerships have not yet been resolved.
History has documented a relationship between humans and animals around the globe and cultures. The genetic and archaeological evidences suggest that cats and dogs have existed with man as far back as more than 14,000 years ago. The history has also revealed that early companion of human-animal relationships have been the practical one that include protection of humans, control of rodents and management of herding. In modern times, continuation of human-pets relationships are evident. In 2001, almost of half of British households own one or more pets. In the United States, more than 172 million cats and dogs were recorded in 2009.
(American Pet Products Association, 2009). In 2008, estimate of 432 million companion dogs and 272 companion cats are recorded globally. While dogs and cats are common pets among older people, however, pets such as birds, rabbits, horses and aquatic pets are increasingly popular.
The Australian Health Department is the sponsor of this research to enhance a greater understanding on the extent pets contribute to health benefits of older people. Globally, percentages of older people increased from 9.2% in 1991 to 11.7% in 2013 and likely to reach 21.1% by 2050. In the light of this global projection, government are attempting to introduce policies that will make older people to live healthier lives.
The researchers collect data from participants to investigate the relationships between health benefits and pet ownerships among older people. The outcome of the research enhance a greater understanding of the policy makers about associated health benefits from owing pets.
Internal Review Board
Participants are the residents of the Australian Capital Territory aged between 60 and 64. The researcher drew participants from the Australian electoral Rolls of Queanbeyan and Canberra. Moreover, "a letter was sent to all potential participants explaining the purpose of the research" (Parslow, Jorm, Christensen, et al. 2005 p 42), and the participants willing to participate were interviewed by professional interviewers, and out of 4,378 who gave a response to participate, 2,551 actually participated.
The participants consisted of older people between 60 and 64 years of age, and the selected participants were people who owned pets and people without pets. The approved pets for the research purpose include dogs, cats, birds or fish.
The participants consisted of older people who have pets and older people who do not have pets. However, 90% of the participants reported that they had dog or cats. Moreover, approximate 66% of the participants agreed that they were the carers of the pets. The paper also compared the socio-demographic characteristics of pet owners with non-pet owners. Moreover, similar number of men and women have pets.
The number participants were 2,551. However, number of participants who owed pets was 1,240, while the number of participants with no pets was 1,308. Number of participants who cared for pets were 827 compared to 1,721 who admitted not caring for pets.
Use of an Interviewer
The "SF-12 (12-item Short Form Health Survey)" was used to obtain the mental and health information of participants. The SF-12 were able to obtain the Mean and Standard Deviation to understand the mental and health levels of participants.
Mode of Administration
The statistical analysis was carried out using the descriptive statistics to manage the large mass of data, and the researcher used the Mean and Standard Deviation to demonstrate the level of mental and health attributes of participants with pets and without pets.
Computer -assisted interview is becoming popular with rapid development of information technology, and increasing number of researchers use computer to collect information from participants based on the benefits derived from the use of computer. For example, the researcher can post interview online to attract large number of participants globally. (Groves, et al. 2009).
The reporting unit consists of the University Evaluation Committee responsible for the quality process of the project. An evaluation is very critical to enhance acceptability and reliability of the project. The evaluation process also assists in making the policy makers to accept the project for a policy implementation.
The study takes approximately 12 months to complete, which include the period to collect data from the participants, period for data analysis and the presentation of the results.
The analysis is carried out two times. Parslow, Jorm, Christensen et al. (2005) carried out the analysis by giving pain reliever to the participants owing pets four-week before the interview to compare an improved health outcomes of the two group of participants.
"Interview per Round Survey"
Parslow et al. (2005) used a combination of an interview method with survey method. The interview is carried out first followed by the survey method. In essence, the researchers used the data collected through the interview to design the survey.
Levels of Observation
Observation is a qualitative tool used to collect data by observing participants in their natural environment. Although, Parslow et al. (2005) did not use the observation method to collect data, nevertheless, the use of observation as a method of data collection is increasingly popular.
AREAS IDENTIFIED FOR IMPROVEMENT
This section provides the areas that need to be improved in the study to enhance research reliability and validity.
Specified First Area
First, Parslow et al. (2005) ought to use equal number of older people owing dogs or cats with equal number of participants with no pets. The strategy would have assisted the researchers to obtain perfect results because equal number of participants with no pets are used as controlled subjects.
Criticism of original survey
Several criticisms are identified in the study. First, the researchers did not use equal number of participants with pets and participants with no pets. Moreover, it is still very difficult to establish that owning pets do not provide health or mental benefits for older people because number older people are using animal companions to kill boredom and depression.
Improvement (or remedy)
Parslow et al. (2005) ought to have discussed about the leeway for future research and this is lacking in their research. Moreover, the research ought to have collected data from different ethnic groups and economic…
The internal review board is very critical for this research because the quality of the research will influence the decision of policy makers whether or not to implement the research for the benefit of the larger population.
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