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Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Sydney School of Public wants to know if dogs make people happier

The effect of dog ownership on adult human health is the focus of a new pilot study by the University of Sydney.

Sydney School of Public wants to know if dogs make people happier

Do dogs make people feel happy?

Led by Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney School of Public Health, the research team is seeking 100 non-dog owners to participate in the trial—people who are considering owning a dog as well as those who have no interest in doing so.

“Dog ownership is very popular in Australia with over 40 percent of households owning at least one dog,” Associate Professor Stamatakis said. “While anecdotal evidence suggests dog ownership is beneficial for human health, there is currently scant scientific evidence to back up this perception.

“Our research will provide valuable insight into the health benefits of dog ownership which could support programs promoting and enabling dog ownership as a means to increase physical activity, improve general health and prevent cardiovascular and mental illness.”

Differences in physical activity, cardiovascular and metabolic health, and psychosocial well-being will be assessed for three groups: participants who acquire a dog within one month, after an eight-month waiting period, or do not adopt at all.

Over the course of eight months, participants in the Physical & Affective Wellbeing Study of dog owners (PAWS) pilot will be asked to complete a small number of questionnaires over the phone and visit the Charles Perkins Centre or be visited at home three times for some simple physical measurements.

“These initial results will also inform the methods of a much larger trial, the first controlled trial to examine the health effect of ‘real world’ dog ownership,” Associate Professor Stamatakis explained.

What is public health?

Public health is society’s response to threats to the collective health of its citizens. Public health practitioners work to enhance and protect the health of populations by identifying their health problems and needs, and providing programs and services to address these needs. Studying in this field as an international student gives Canadians an understanding of the public health realm on an international scale, making Australia a top choice for Canadians.

At the Sydney School of Public Health, the Master of Public Health program is open to students from health and non-health backgrounds. Public health is

  • preventing disease;
  • promoting health; and
  • prolonging life.

Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intakes: March and July
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: Candidates are encouraged to apply a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

Entry Requirements: A successful applicant for admission to the program requires

  • a minimum four-year full time degree or equivalent qualification from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification; or
  • a shorter degree from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification, and non-degree professional qualifications and/or substantial relevant experience and/or other relevant qualifications.

Apply to the Sydney Public Health School!

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If you have any questions about studying at the Sydney School of Public Health, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Adam Smith at adam@oztrekk.com.

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Health benefits of dog ownership explored in new research node

Man’s best friend is set to become his lab partner, with the launch of a research node on the health effects of dog ownership at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

In collaboration with the RSPCA NSW, the dog ownership node brings together experts in public health, physical activity and exercise, disease prevention, behaviour change, health psychology, human-animal interactions, and canine health.

Researchers hope the node will shed light on not only how dog ownership influences human health, but also on how these benefits could be harnessed as part of the health care system.

University of Sydney Health Sciences

Sydney researchers will explore the psychological and psychosocial benefits of dog ownership

“Fragmented research has indicated the benefits of dog ownership on health, and in particular on physical activity through dog walking, but it has so far failed to provide a body of evidence on the extent of these benefits, and how and why they occur,” said node leader Associate Professor Manos Stamatakis, from the Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney Faculty of Health Sciences.

“We know that dogs can be not only a catalyst for physical activity, which is a major health issue in our society, but dog ownership can also address social isolation; the lack of connection between humans.

“What we want to understand is why these benefits occur. Is it because of the ownership itself, or because there is another mechanism that mediates this, like walking or companionship?”

The node is one of the world’s first coordinated, comprehensive research efforts in the field, and is the first to make interventions in human health its top priority.

With one of the world’s highest rates of dog ownership, Australia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the health benefits of owning a dog.

Thirty-nine per cent of Australian households own a dog, and of these around two-thirds are estimated to be under-walked. Interventions designed to increase dog walking could therefore have a marked impact on human health.

Along with physical activity, researchers will also explore the psychological and psychosocial benefits of dog ownership, which are becoming increasingly important as the population ages.

“We know that with older age comes increasing isolation, and with that comes loneliness. It’s a major cardiovascular disease risk factor, it’s a major cancer risk factor, and it’s a major risk factor for depression,” Associate Professor Stamatakis said.

“One aspect of human isolation can be addressed simply by owning a dog, because of their companionship, unconditional acceptance and love that humans often do not get from other people.

“The second aspect is that the dog can be a catalyst to tighten human social connections and increase networks.”

According to Brendon Neilly, RSPCA NSW’s Executive Manager of Animal Care Services, the data produced by the Charles Perkins Centre’s dog ownership node could be used to make significant advances in human and animal health, with a potential path cleared for dogs to be used as part of the health care system.

“We could say to people like health care providers, public transport providers, rental accommodation owners, local governments, nursing homes and community groups that it’s not just anecdotal and it’s not just about letting people keep pets,” Mr Neilly said.

“If we can demonstrate a physiological measure, a genuine value, we can make real improvements to quality of life. And that’s for both owners and pets.”

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Wondering what it’s like to study at the Sydney Faculty of Health Sciences? Contact OzTREKK!