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HHS HealthBeat (February 24, 2012)

Pets, people and illness

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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Having a pet can help someone who has an illness, and researcher Allison Webel of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has ideas about how it works. Webel held 12 focus groups with 48 women, with an average age of 42, who had HIV.

Owning a pet came out as one of the things that helped women manage their illness:

“The routine work of feeding the pet, and walking the pet, and coming home to the pet – and all of those positive responsibilities leads women to best manage their health.” (10 seconds)

Webel thinks that what she found in these women with HIV may also be the case with people who have other chronic illnesses.

The study in the journal Women’s Health Issues was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: February 24, 2012