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Randomized Control Trial of an Animal-Assisted Intervention With Adjudicated Youth

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ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01594606
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : May 9, 2012
Last Update Posted : December 9, 2015
Sponsor:
Collaborator:
Information provided by (Responsible Party):

Study Description
Brief Summary:
The project involves testing the efficacy of an animal-assisted intervention (AAI). The AAI consists of a 10-week program in which adjudicated adolescents train shelter dogs and will be compared to a dog walking control group matched for educational content and dog contact time. The investigators expect that the AAI will result in improved empathy skills and that dog attachment will explain these findings. The investigators also explore the extent to which the AAI will improve internalizing and externalizing symptoms in these adolescents.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Conduct Disorder Depression Anxiety Behavioral: Animal-assisted intervention Phase 3

Detailed Description:
Adjudicated adolescents (i.e., teens who have committed criminal offenses and are incarcerated in juvenile detention centers) have deficits in emotion regulation, including empathy skills, and are at risk for a host of poor outcomes including repeat offenses, internalizing symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety), externalizing symptoms (e.g., lying, truancy, fighting). Many of these problems stem from a lack of secure attachment to parents and peers. There is a need for novel and innovative programs to help these teens develop more secure attachments and better empathy skills to prevent poor outcomes. One type of intervention is animal-assisted interventions such as dog training programs. These programs appear to build empathy skills in at-risk youth, which may translate into better peer relations, less psychological distress, and less recidivism. The goal of this study is to test an existing animal-assisted intervention program that is already being used in juvenile detention centers to determine whether it is efficacious in improving adjudicated adolescents' empathy skills and psychological symptoms through building a secure attachment to the training dog.

Study Design

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 150 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: RCT of an Animal-Assisted Intervention With Adjudicated Youth
Study Start Date : May 2012
Primary Completion Date : August 2014
Study Completion Date : June 2015
Arms and Interventions

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Animal-assisted
This group receives the dog training program in which they will be teaching a dog basic obedience skills.
Behavioral: Animal-assisted intervention
The experimental group will receive 10 weeks of classroom training and hands-on experience working with dogs to teach them basic obedience skills. Each participant will work with the same dog each week. The active control group will receive 10 weeks of classroom training and will walk a different dog each week but will not teach obedience skills to the dogs.
Active Comparator: Dog Walking
This group will walk a different dog each week but will not engage in dog training.
Behavioral: Animal-assisted intervention
The experimental group will receive 10 weeks of classroom training and hands-on experience working with dogs to teach them basic obedience skills. Each participant will work with the same dog each week. The active control group will receive 10 weeks of classroom training and will walk a different dog each week but will not teach obedience skills to the dogs.


Outcome Measures

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms as measured by the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist-Teacher Report and Youth Self Report forms [ Time Frame: baseline and 10 weeks ]
    The Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist is a standardized measure of child behavior problems that assesses observers' and children's reports of the children's anxiety and depression (internalizing) and acting out (externalizing) behaviors.


Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in empathy toward other people [ Time Frame: baseline and 10 weeks ]
    An observational measure was created for the purposes of this study in which a trained confederate acts as a potential student for the animal-assisted intervention. The confederate will express anxiety about the program and the participants' responses will be coded by trained raters for empathic content.


Eligibility Criteria

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   14 Years to 17 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • must be a resident of participating juvenile justice center in Michigan

Exclusion Criteria:

Contacts and Locations

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (NCT number): NCT01594606


Locations
United States, Michigan
Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center
Mt. Clemens, Michigan, United States, 48043
Sponsors and Collaborators
Wayne State University
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Investigators
Principal Investigator: Annmarie Cano, PhD Wayne State University
More Information

Responsible Party: Annmarie Cano, Associate Professor, Wayne State University
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01594606     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R03HD070621 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
First Posted: May 9, 2012    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: December 9, 2015
Last Verified: December 2015

Keywords provided by Annmarie Cano, Wayne State University:
Animal-assisted intervention
adjudicated adolescents
empathy

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Conduct Disorder
Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Mental Disorders