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The Role of Pets in Supporting Cognitive-Behavioral Chronic Pain Self-Management: Perspectives of Older Adults.

Janevic MR, Shute V, Connell CM, Piette JD, Goesling J, Fynke J. The Role of Pets in Supporting Cognitive-Behavioral Chronic Pain Self-Management: Perspectives of Older Adults. Journal of applied gerontology : the official journal of the Southern Gerontological Society. 2020 Oct 1; 39(10):1088-1096.

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Cognitive-behavioral self-management strategies are recommended for older adults with chronic pain. The goal of this study was to explore how pet ownership promotes use of these strategies in everyday life. We conducted four focus groups ( = 25) with dog and cat owners aged = 70 years with persistent pain. Participants described how their pets affect their daily routines and health, including pain and its management. We analyzed transcripts for salient themes, categorizing them according to their alignment with recommended pain self-management strategies: (e.g., increases positive affect), (e.g., soothing presence), (e.g., dog-walking), (e.g., motivates activity even when pain present), (e.g., facilitates socializing), and (e.g., encourages routine). Some participants described negative impacts of pet ownership. Having pets can facilitate behaviors and thoughts that may enhance coping with pain. Testing formal ways of leveraging pets' role may expand nonpharmacological options for chronic pain management.

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