Year of Publication

2019

Date of Thesis

08-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Exercise and Sport Sciences

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine if the presence of a canine in an athletic training room impacts the psychosocial environment, and hegemonic masculine athletes’ help-seeking behaviors. More specifically, this study examined the effect that canines had on rehabilitation processes in the athletic training room at one NCAA Division II university in the Northeast United States, known to use a comfort dog in the athletic training room. It was hypothesized that the canine would enhance the psychosocial atmosphere, and that the presence of a canine would be associated with positive health seeking behaviors in hegemonic male athletes. Following IRB approval, Qualtrics-based questionnaires were sent electronically to 452 athletes identified by the university’s athletic training staff as having used the athletic training services over the past year. Ninety-five athletes responded. The athletes were presented with an online survey that consisted of a demographics questionnaire, three questionnaires examining the overall effectiveness of a dog being present in the athletic training room, and if the participant identified as male, a fourth questionnaire that rated their hegemonic masculinity levels (CMNI-46). Lastly, a fifth questionnaire was sent specifically to the athletic trainers to gain insight from their perspectives about how the canine influenced the environment. Dog Treatment Questionnaires 1 and 2 were for athletes who had received athletic training treatments while in the athletic training room with the dog, and Dog Treatment Questionnaire 3 was for athletes who had received athletic training room treatments with no dog present. Chi-squared analyses found fifteen of the sixteen questions in the first dog treatment questionnaire, and twelve of the fifteen questions in the second dog treatment iv questionnaire to be significant at the p ≤ 0.05 level, meaning that significantly more participants found the experience with the dog to be favorable versus neutral or unfavorable. A chi-squared analysis also found Dog Treatment Questionnaire 3 to be significant at the p ≤ 0.05 level for seven of the thirteen questions, meaning that significantly more participants believed that specific aspects of the athletic training room environment would be better if a dog was present. A correlation analysis was also run showed a high positive relationship with the scores on the Dog Treatment Questionnaire 1 and Dog Treatment Questionnaire 2 at the p ≤ 0.01 level (r = 0.823). Overall, it was found that the canine did enhance the psychosocial atmosphere. Analyses showed that the dog significantly improved athletes’ experiences in regards to anxiety, confidence, and adherence to rehabilitation. These findings are limited by response rate, cross-sectional design, potential selection bias, and the lack of validation in the questionnaires. Secondly, it was hypothesized that the hegemonic masculinity levels would affect a male athlete’s perception of canine-assisted therapy, and this hypothesis was not supported. Analyses showed that there was no relationship between the scores on the Dog Treatment Questionnaires with any of the subscales on the CMNI-46. These findings are limited by the response rate, range restriction, and attrition rates. In conclusion, it was found that athletes reported that the dog’s presence decreased anxiety, increased confidence, and increased adherence within rehabilitation; the benefits of a dog’s presence can be predicted; and, the dog had no specific effect on the hegemonic male athletes undergoing rehabilitation. Recommendations for future research are presented.

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