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The Benefits of Guide Dog Ownership

Whitmarsh, Lorraine E. 2005. The Benefits of Guide Dog Ownership. Visual Impairment Research 7 (1) , pp. 27-42. 10.1080/13882350590956439

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There is an apparent discrepancy between the actual number of guide dog owners and the proportion of visually impaired people who might benefit from a guide dog. This research aimed to provide an understanding of the reasons why many visually impaired people have not applied for a guide dog, the range of benefits offered by guide dogs, and how these might vary amongst different populations and under different circumstances. While previous research described a number of psychological and social benefits of assistant animal ownership, consistent with the companion animal literature, it also pointed to the importance of personal and social context on the impact and effectiveness of assistance animals. The study described here involved a telephone survey of over 800 visually impaired people and found that independence, confidence, companionship, increased and changed social interaction, as well as increased mobility, are commonly cited benefits of guide dog ownership. These psychological and social dimensions of owning a guide dog distinguish it from other mobility aids in its capacity to transform the lives of owners. However, as expected, demographic and contextual factors, such as gender, age, level of vision, and domestic circumstances, influence reasons for application and perceived benefits and drawbacks of guide dog ownership. The author argues that, while this research has emphasised the tremendous impact a guide dog can have, providing the most appropriate mobility aid for an individual's circumstances is the hallmark of effective rehabilitation service provision. The article also suggests ways in which perceived barriers to applying for a guide dog might be reduced.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Guide dogs, rehabilitation outcomes research, assistance animals
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
ISSN: 1388-235X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:05

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