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Tucson, AZ
USA

520-621-0181

Potential Participants

WE ARE RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS!! 

 

Although we are no longer recruiting for volunteers into the foster portion of the protocol, we are conducting interviews (between 30 minutes and 1 hour) with people in the general public and veterinarians. If you are interested in participating, please read the information below and contact Kim Kelly at: kkelly@psychiatry.arizona.edu or 520-621-0181. 

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We believe there is a biological explanation for the benefits of having a dog. We are conducting a study that explores if owning a dog actually contributes to having not only a stronger immune system but also enhance mental and physical health. If you would like to share your thoughts on the topics of: animal-human relationships, the human and canine gut microbiome connection, transfer of disease between animals, and your general thoughts on how animals and humans can help improve (or not) the health of one another, we’d love to hear from you! In order to be eligible to participate, you must be over the age of 18.

An Institutional Review Board responsible for human subjects research at The University of Arizona reviewed this research project and found it to be acceptable, according to applicable state and federal regulations and University policies designed to protect the rights and welfare of participants in research.

 

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The Dog Foster Portion of the Study (Now Closed):

This study will take place over 3 months at the University of Arizona, Humane Society of Southern Arizona and your home. 

Study Screening:

  • Our screening involves a two step process. The first step is via phone to discuss the study and determine if you will be eligible. The second step is an in-clinic visit where you will meet with our staff, have an opportunity to ask more questions and decide if you would like to participate. 

Phone Screening: 

  • The phone screening with a member of our staff will take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. You will be asked questions about your health and dog ownership history and preference and other questions that will aid in matching you with a dog.

In-Clinic Screening:

If you pass the phone screening, we will schedule an in-clinic screening visit which will take between 1 - 2 hours. During this visit you will: 

  • Have a short interview with study staff to see if you qualify for the study
  • Read the informed consent form and decide if you want to participate.  If you do, you will be asked to sign the informed consent form.  You can also read the study informed consent form here
  • Complete questionnaires about your lifestyle
  • Complete a form that will help the Humane Society match you with a dog

Study Visits

Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA) Visit:

If you qualify for the study, you will be asked to visit the HSSA to complete paperwork to foster a dog and answer questions that will aid in matching you with a dog. During this visit you will select a dog for fostering that will come and live in your home. If you do not find a suitable dog at this visit, you can come back at another time and try to find a good match. 

Device and Sample Collection Explanation Visit:

The day of, or several days prior to your first baseline visit, you will meet with study staff member who will provide you with the specimen tubes (pictured below) so that you can take a saliva, skin and fecal sample at home.  These samples are completely non-invasive and require you to simply swipe the swab on your skin (skin sample) and on the inside of your mouth (saliva sample). The fecal sample is collected by swiping the swab across a soiled piece of toilet paper. You will receive two sets of specimen collection tubes as you will be asked to collect samples from yourself at two points during the same week.  You will also receive a mesh cooler and ice packs to keep the samples in your home freezer until you come to the clinic for your in-clinic visit. 

  Specimen collection swabs for skin, saliva and fecal samples. 

 

Specimen collection swabs for skin, saliva and fecal samples

At this visit you will also receive an Actigraph (pictured below). You will wear this device around your waist for the week and it will measure your activity level. 

Actigraph device that measures participants' activity levels. 

Actigraph device that measures participants' activity levels. 

This visit will take 1 hour so that the staff can fully explain the device to you and how to collect the samples. You will also have time to ask as many questions as you need. 

Baseline Visit #1:

After receiving your device and sample collection supplies, you and the study staff will agree on a date for you to start wearing the device and collect your samples. You will do this in your home, and this will be your Baseline Visit #1. 

Sometime between Baseline Visit #1 and Baseline Visit #2 (one week), you will receive three phone calls during which you will be asked about your food intake.  These calls will take about 15 minutes each. 

Baseline Visit #2:

One week after you collected the first specimens and started wearing the Actigraph device, you will have your Baseline Visit #2. This visit will take about 3 hours and be conducted at our clinic at the University of Arizona's Department of Psychiatry. 

On the day of your visit to the clinic, you will be asked to collect fecal, saliva and skin samples from yourself and bring these, along with the ones that you collected one week before this, to your visit at the clinic using the mesh cooler and ice packs you were provided.  During your visit at the clinic: 

  • Study staff will collect the samples and the cooler from you
  • Study staff will collect the Actigraph from you
  • You will have a blood draw (about two teaspoons of blood will be drawn)
  • You will rest in a dimly lit room for 15 minutes where your heart rate and sweat will be measured by non-invasive devices
  • You will have your body composition measured
  • You will complete a task that involves walking a short distance
  • You will complete a series of questionnaires about your lifestyle, health and food intake.

Receiving your dog:

Upon completion of Baseline Visit #2, you will be introduced to your dog and will be able to take him/her home with you from the Humane Society. Before your dog is given to you, he/she will receive necessary vaccinations, treatments and if necessary, will be spayed or neutered. Food for your dog will be provided throughout the duration of the study.  If your pet requires any veterinary care during the study, that also will be provided. Additionally, if you would like to have training with your dog, you will have an opportunity to work with a professional trainer who can help you learn to understand your dog better and help train him/her.

Your dog will wear a Whistle monitor throughout the duration of the study to monitor his/her activity levels.  When you meet your dog, if you have a smartphone (Android or iPhone) the study staff will connect your phone to the Whistle device so that you can monitor your dog's activity and receive updates from the Whistle device. If you do not have a smartphone, we will show you how to monitor his/her activity online via the Whistle. 

Study Visits during Months 1, 2 and 3:

1 week prior to these visits, study staff will meet with you at your home or another location if you prefer, so that you can be provided with the specimen collection tubes, Actigraph device and cooler for storing the samples. You will be asked to collect samples from both yourself and your dog. 

During the week between when you meet with the study staff and your in-clinic visit, you will again receive 3 phone calls during which you will be asked questions about your food intake. 

On the day of the in-clinic visit, you will come to the UA's Department of Psychiatry and the following will occur: 

  • You will be asked to collect fecal, mouth and forehead samples from you and your dog. You should bring these samples to the visit. 
  • You will have a blood draw
  • You will rest in a dimly lit room where your heart rate and sweat will be measured by non-invasive devices
  • You will have your body composition taken
  • You will be asked to complete a task that involves walking a short distance
  • You will be asked to complete a series of questionnaires about your lifestyle, health and food intake. 
  • You will have a short qualitative interview with a study staff member

At-home Activities:

The following activities will occur in-between study visits: 

  • 1 week prior to Baseline Visits 1 and 2 and Monthly follow-ups 1, 2 and 3 study staff will call you periodically to ask you about your food intake.
  • You will be given a log where you will write down any non-study dog food items that you give to your dog
  • You will be given a log to report any falls that you've had
  • Study staff will call you weekly to see how you and your dog are doing

After the study is over:

After the study is over, you will have the option to keep your dog (and we hope you do!!) or, if it was not a good match, you can give the dog back to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona who will find the dog a good home.


If you have questions, concerns or want to be screened, contact: Kim Kelly at: kkelly@psychiatry.arizona.edu or 520-621-0181

Please consider participating, or if you know someone who might be interested in this information, please pass it on to him/her.