Degree Name

MPH (Master of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Mary Ann Littleton

Committee Members

Tiejian Wu, Brunhilde Tober-Meyer


This cross-sectional study explored the relationship between pet ownership, attachment, and psychological health among community-dwelling senior citizens and evaluated the impact of the placement of an aquarium into a regional senior center. General health, depression, social support, pet attitudes, pet attachment, pet relationships, and attitudes about the aquarium were assessed among 104 members of a senior center.

Symptoms of depression were identified in 17.3% of the participants. Pets were a significant form of social support and attachment to pet owners. No significant relationship was observed between pet ownership, pet attachment, and psychological health. Positive health effects were reported among participants who observed the fish aquarium.

While the relationship between pet ownership, human-animal interactions, and psychological well-being remains unclear, it appears that older adults can benefit from animal-assisted activities and therapy programs. Animal-assisted activities and therapy programs may be useful adjunctive therapies for depression in community-dwelling senior citizens.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.