The official journal of
EUROPAD - European Opiate Addiction Treatment Association
WFTOD - World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
Editor: Icro Maremmani, MD - Pisa, Italy, EU
Associate Editors:
Thomas Clausen, MD - Oslo, Norway
Pier Paolo Pani, MD - Cagliari, Italy, EU
Marta Torrens, MD - Barcelona, Spain, EU
Statistical Editor:
Mario Miccoli, PhD - Pisa, Italy, EU

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Heroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems: 2024, 26, 11

Pet ownership, physical activity and mental health among people in opioid maintenance treatment: a prospective, observational study

Cornelia Haarr Hatlo, Thomas Clausen, Ashley Elizabeth Muller, and Gustavo Sugahara

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Summary: Background. Animal-assisted therapies, in which patients interact with various types of animals as part of a treatment intervention, may have positive effects on mental health symptoms. Suppose contact with animals outside of the treatment setting – such as owning a pet – could lend the same positive effects for people receiving outpatient opioid maintenance treatment. In that case, pet ownership may be supported by clinicians for current patients. This article explores the relationship between pet ownership, physical activity, and mental health. Methods. The data used is drawn from the larger NorCOMT study: a prospective, observational study. NorCOMT includes 14 Norwegian OMT institutions from 2012-2016 and self-reports at treatment start and one year after. Data from 174 patients followed up with is included in this analysis. We compared self-reported physical activity, mental health, and substance use by pet owner category, distinguishing between dog owners, other types of pet owners, and those who owned no pets. Results. 18% of the sample owned a dog, 13% owned another type of pet, and 69% were non-owners. These groups did not differ according to sociodemographic or substance-related variables. Dog owners were more physically active, followed by other pet owners. In bivariate analyses, other pet owners had poorer mental health than dog owners and non-dog owners. Exploring physical activity: in an adjusted logistic regression that included mental health, dog ownership predicted higher physical activity. Conclusions. While dog ownership is associated with greater physical activity in this sample of OMT patients, there is no clear relationship between dog or other pet ownership and mental health.

Keywords: Opioid maintenance treatment; animals; pet ownership; physical activity; mental health


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