A research project on equine assisted therapy in combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has received a $US50,000 grant from the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF).
The award has been made to Baylor University in Texas for the project “Examination of the Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on PTSD Symptoms, Quality of Life and Participation in Combat Veterans”. The work will be carried out under the direction of principal investigator Dr Beth Lanning, and will assess the changes in PTSD symptoms, quality of life and participation of combat veterans who participate in equine-assisted activities. The research team will be assessing 75 veterans participating in five different programs or test sites.
After four tiers of review of the 15 research projects submitted to HHRF two were selected by the scientific review team as ‘recommended for funding’. After much deliberation, board members made their final decision and enthusiastically endorse their support of Baylor University’s team.
This research project is the result of the second call for proposals specific to equine-assisted activities for veterans with PTSD and TBI. Both initiatives are the results of seed funding from The Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Programs.
Baylor University’s research will expand on the information obtained from a pilot study by investigating the effects of an eight-week equine assisted activities (EAA) intervention on PTSD symptoms, quality of life and impaired functioning.
“We will also use the international classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF) as a model to help guide the study. This unique perspective will help us better understand not only how EAA affects behavior, but also why EAA appears to positively influence quality of life and encourages veterans to participate in life activities.”
Baylor said its research team has extensive experience working with veterans in therapeutic riding programs. “Several members of the team where involved in the first horses and veterans program in the United States.”
• The HHRF has also provided updates on two other studies involving equine-related therapy.
Work on “Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on PTSD Symptoms, Coping Self-efficacy, Emotion Regulation and Social Engagement in Military Veterans”, led by Rebecca A. Johnson of the University of Missouri’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, had started late because of restrictions related to patients from a local US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. However, nearly half the subjects have now been recruited and started in sessions. “While quantitative evidence is inconclusive, the samples of qualitative findings appeared very positive. The project was granted an extended completion date,” the HHRF said.
“The project aims to test the effectiveness of a 6-week human-horse interaction and therapeutic horseback riding program as it relates to decreased symptoms of PTSD, improving beliefs in veterans’ ability to cope, and increasing emotion regulation and social engagement among 40 previously deployed U.S. military.”
A study led by Dr Megan Meuller of Tufts University in Massachusetts, “Effects of Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy on Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Youth” is expected to be completed by April 30, 2015. The HHRF reported that the first nine months of the grant period, from November 2013, the primary goals were to train staff and volunteers, finalize the study protocols, recruit the first segment of participants for the study, and use feedback from the first groups to improve the program in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.