An observational study of service dogs for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder

Bobbi Jo H. Yarborough, Ashli A. Owen-Smith, Scott P. Stumbo, Micah T. Yarborough, Nancy A. Perrin, Carla A. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study examined needs related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), assistance by service dogs, and feasibility of data collection among veterans receiving service dogs. Methods: Questionnaires assessed PTSD-related needs and services performed or expected to be performed by service dogs among 78 veterans who had or were on a wait list for a service dog (average age, 42; women, 31%). Analyses compared pre-post characteristics among 22 veterans who received a service dog as part of the study (91% follow-up; average follow-up53.3762.57 months). Results: Veterans reported that the most important services performed were licking or nudging veterans to help them "stay present," preventing panic, and putting space between veterans and strangers. High follow-up rates and improvements in outcomes with moderate to large effect sizes among recipients of study-provided dogs suggest further study is warranted. Conclusions: Service dogs may be feasible supports for veterans with PTSD; randomized clinical trials are needed to assess effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-734
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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