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Quantifying the emotional experiences of partners of veterans with PTSD service dogs using ecological momentary assessment

APA Citation:

Nieforth, L. O., Abdul Wahab, A. H., Sabbaghi, A., MacDermid Wadsworth, S., Foti, D., & O’Haire, M. E. (2022). Quantifying the emotional experiences of partners of veterans with PTSD service dogs using ecological momentary assessment. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 48, Article 101590. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101590

Abstract Created by REACH:

Using a sample of 87 partners of post-9/11 Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this study compared partners’ emotion and affect (e.g., calm, confident) and partner proximity (i.e., whether the partner was present when the Veteran completed the surveys) across families with and without a PTSD service dog over time. Partners were in either the intervention group (i.e., obtained a service dog) or control group (i.e., waitlisted for a service dog). Data were collected twice a day for 2 weeks at both the start of the intervention (i.e., baseline) and at the 3-month follow-up. Overall, partners of Veterans with a PTSD service dog reported more positive emotion and affect, especially calmness and confidence, than partners of Veterans without a PTSD service dog.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study
Longitudinal Study


Nieforth, Leanne O., Abdul Wahab, Ahmad Hakeem, Sabbaghi, Arman, MacDermid Wadsworth, Shelley, Foti, Daniel, O'Haire, Marguerite E.


The objective of this study was to investigate the day-to-day experiences of positive and negative emotions among partners of veterans assigned service dogs for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As part of a larger clinical trial, a total of N = 87 partners of post-9/11 veterans with PTSD were recruited from a nonprofit service dog provider and participated in an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol. The sample included partners of veterans who received a PTSD service dog after baseline (n = 48, treatment group) and partners of veterans on the waitlist for a service dog (n = 39, control group). Data were collected twice daily for two weeks at baseline and again at follow-up three months later, for approximately 56 assessments per participant (28 at baseline, 28 at follow up). Participants completed an average of 84% of questionnaires at baseline (n = 23.6) and 86% (n = 24.1) at follow-up. A total of 3780 EMA questionnaires were collected among partners for this analysis. Data were analyzed using a generalized linear mixed model. Three months following baseline, partners of veterans with service dogs reported statistically significant higher levels of positive emotions than the control partners (p = .01, d = 0.39) with small-to-medium effect sizes for each individual positive emotion. No statistically significant differences were reported for negative emotions (p = .77, d = 0.21). This study quantitatively identifies higher levels of positive emotion in partners who are cohabitating with a PTSD service dog compared to those partners who remained on the waitlist. Given the influence that positive emotions have on well-being and coping, findings suggest that the influence of service dogs may go beyond veterans to influence their cohabitating partners.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Center for the Human Animal Bond, Purdue University, LON
Center for the Human Animal Bond, Purdue University, MEO
Janssen Pharmaceuticals, AHAW
Department of Statistics, Purdue University, AS
Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University, SMW
Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, DF


service dog, ptsd

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Award Number TL1TR002531 from the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, Clinical and Translational Sciences Award
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health under award number R21HD091896; Merrick Pet Care; and the PetCo Foundation

REACH Newsletter:

  August 2022

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