AUDEAMUS is contributing to the dearth of research evidence in the Service Dog field. We are members of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers representing the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina, McMaster University, British Columbia Institute of Technology, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, and various consultants.
The goal of our current Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse-funded study is to learn from veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and paired with an AUDEAMUS Service Dog about how the dog assists them with addressing their problematic use of substances, and specifically opiates. Led by Drs. Dell and Osgoode alongside a multidisciplinary team, the study examines the impact of both the therapeutic intervention tasks the Service Dogs are trained in (e.g., tactile stimulation to disrupt emotional overload) and the human-animal bond (bio-psycho-social-spiritual connection) to address veterans’ PTSD and its relation to their mental health and wellness, and specifically problematic substance use focused on opioids. It also examines the AUDEAMUS program outcomes.
The research question is: Does an AUDEAMUS service dog assist veterans with PTSD in addressing their problematic substance use, and specifically opiates? And if so, how, accounting for both the tasks the dogs perform and their connection with the veteran? We are testing physiological measures with both the veterans and service dogs through wearable technology as well as psycho-social-spiritual measures with the veterans and their family and health care providers.
The theoretical framework for this study draws upon One Health, and specifically zooeyia, which acknowledges the interconnection of humans, animals and the environment and its beneficial impact in human health.
AUDEAMUS is a member of the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR), a coalition of organizations that support patient-oriented research. To understand the patient experience to a greater extent, and to put into practice a community-based approach to research, Drs. Colleen Dell and Darlene Chalmers are undergoing our Service Dog Training Program.
Notable Research Accomplishments to date
“PAWSitive Support: Animal Assisted Interventions in the Treatment of Mental Health and Addictions.” Canadian Health Adaptations, Innovations & Mobilization Centre at Carleton University (Dell & Lapointe, 2016). Ottawa, ON.
“PAWSitive Support: Animal Assisted Interventions in the Treatment of Addictions.” University of Winnipeg, Department of Sociology, Visiting Speakers Series (Dell & Russell, 2017). Winnipeg, MB.
“The AUDEAMUS Story”. One Health Leadership Experience at the University of Saskatchewan (Lohnes, Lapointe, Russell, 2017). Saskatoon, SK.
Peer Reviewed Presentations
“Brighter Days & Calmer Nights: The Impact of Service Dogs on the Wellbeing of Veterans Who Problematically Use Substances”. Issues of Substance conference (Dell, 2017). Calgary, AB.
“Brighter Days & Calmer Nights: The Impact of Service Dogs on the Wellbeing of Veterans Who Problematically Use Substances”. International Working Dog conference (Dell, Arratoon, Lapointe, Lohnes, 2017). Calgary, AB.
“AUDEAMUS OSI/PTSD Curriculum” Hawaii International Conference on Education (Lohnes, Chalmers, Lapointe, Dell, 2017). Poster. Oahu, HI.
“Brighter Days & Calmer Nights: The Impact of Service Dogs on the Wellbeing of Veterans Who Problematically Use Substances”. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (Dell, Arratoon, Lapointe, Lohnes, 2018). Poster. San Diego, CA.
November, 2019 - Audeamus is collaborating with the University of Saskatchewan on a national research project aimed at learning more about service dogs and their role in helping veterans living with PTSD.
“AUDEAMUS”. Saskatchewan Centre for Patient Oriented Research Share the Vision Day (Husband, 2017).Saskatoon, SK.
Non-Peer Reviewed Publications
“Impact of Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD and Substance Abuse”. Canadian Vet Magazine. (Dell, Arratoon, Lapointe, Lohnes, 2017).
“Studying Service Dogs”. The Humanitarian. (Dell, 2017).
“Animal-Assisted Interventions for Addiction Treatment and Prevention”. National Institute on Drug Abuse International Program (Dell, 2018). San Diego, CA
In this episode of Say Know, Drs. Darlene Chalmers and Colleen Dell discuss their work with therapy dogs through the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program and their PAWSitive Support program offered in Drumheller prison. They also discuss the role of Service Dogs in the AUDEAMUS program for recovering military veterans from PTSD. Listen here: Pawsitive Support (episode 6) or on iTunes (episode 16)