October 26, 2021
Categories: Research, Collaboration

Hospitalizations can be stressful for patients for a number of reasons. One reason that may not be so obvious? Care for their pets while they’re away from home.

A recent survey was conducted at the University of Michigan Health on this very topic. The purpose of the survey was to understand how a need to care for animals at home might affect how hospitalized patients follow their doctors’ recommendations.

Researchers published their findings in the Journal of Patient Experience. Among those finding of the 113 patients surveyed include:

  • More than half (63%) reported difficulty figuring out pet care during their own hospitalization and/or that of a loved one.
  • Nearly a third reported that pet care needs impacted their decision, the decision of someone they knew, or both, about whether to stay at the hospital when the medical team recommended it.
  • 16% of respondents said they know someone who has left the hospital against medical advice to go care for their pets.

The article from University of Michigan Health shared that social workers are usually brought in to help create a plan for pet care, but it’s often not for several days into hospitalization. Realizing the pressing need for pet assistance as soon as the patient is admitted, the University of Michigan Health reached out to local partner, Michigan Humane Society (MHS), to brainstorm ideas for a foster collaboration.

Matt Pepper, President and CEO of MHS said, “This research is further evidence that pets are truly a part of the family and an important part of how and why we make decision. Here at Michigan Humane, our work has taught us that people will forego their own health and safety for that of their pet. This study reinforces the need for communities to support families inclusive of the pet.”

Read the full article for more information on the survey and what potential pilot programs might look like.