Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


School of Nursing


Linda J. Hulton

Patra Reed


The purpose of this pilot project was to describe the effect of life-like robotic animals on the nurses’ ability to provide care, patients’ level of agitation, use of antipsychotic medications, restraint and sitter use for patients with dementia in an acute care setting. Nurses report challenges and feelings of helplessness while caring for patients with dementia. Dementia may cause depression, agitation, aggression (physical or verbal) and a decrease quality of life. Animal Assisted Therapy (ATT) is a growing therapy in many healthcare settings but there is a lack of literature specifically related to the use of AAT in the acute care setting to decrease agitation. This was an evidence-based pilot project using retrospective chart review and observational data collection using the Pittsburgh Agitation Scale (n = 4). In addition, a web-based survey platform was utilized for the post-intervention nurse survey (n = 21). The results of the nurse survey supports the use of life-like robotic animals to decrease the difficulty of completing particular tasks for the nurses. Using the sign test, there was a statistical difference (p<0.5) when comparing the nurses’ ability to perform the tasks pre and post utilization of the life-like robotic animal. Ninety percent of nurses who responded to the survey strongly agreed or agreed that they felt less helpless and more hopeful and felt caring for the patient with dementia was more manageable after the patient received the robotic animal. Each of the four patients included in the pilot study showed a decrease in all categories of the Pittsburgh Agitation Scale after receiving the robotic animal. There was an overall decrease in use of antipsychotic medications and sitter use while restraint use remained consistent throughout the data collection period. More research is needed however, based on the results of this pilot project life-like robotic animals combined with other evidence-based interventions could have a significant impact on the care of patients with dementia and agitation while in the acute-care setting.

Keywords: dementia, Alzheimer’s, Animal Assisted Therapy, robotic animals and acute care, Pittsburgh Agitation Scale,



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