PICS in the News (February 2018 - )

Animal-assisted intervention in the ICU: a tool for humanization

  • Megan M. Hosey,

  • Janice Jaskulski,

  • Stephen T. Wegener,

  • Linda L. Chlan and

  • Dale M. Needham


Critical Care201822:22

©  The Author(s). 2018

Received: 25 November 2017

Accepted: 9 January 2018

Published: 12 February 2018


The combination of an aging population and advances in critical care medicine is resulting in a growing number of survivors of critical illness [1]. Survivors’ descriptions of their stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) are frequently filled with traumatic events, and include experiences of confusion, anxiety, sleeplessness, pain, and loneliness [23]. Sedative and anxiolytic medications administered to manage patient symptoms are associated with delirium and worse physical and mental health outcomes [4]. Therefore, there is growing interest in the use of non-pharmacologic interventions and in creating a more humanized environment in the ICU for patients and their families [5]. Such efforts have included a focus on understanding the critically ill patient as an individual and providing comprehensive medical, psychological, and rehabilitation care [678]. This publication aims to: 1) suggest a conceptual model for the use of non-pharmacologic interventions to reduce suffering and promote recovery in a more humanized ICU environment; 2) describe animal-assisted intervention (AAI) as an exemplar of a non-pharmacologic intervention and provide a conceptual model for the utility of this intervention; and 3) discuss the basic principles for introducing a non-pharmacologic intervention program in the ICU.


Post Intensive Care Syndrome, PICS
Post Intensive Care Syndrome, PICS
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