Abstract

OBJECTIVE. We determined the proportion of pet owners and non–pet owners with serious mental illness, compared their characteristics and their motivations for owning or not owning a pet, and examined the relationship between pet ownership and engagement in meaningful activity and three dimensions of community integration.

METHOD. Three Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams reported on the pet ownership of all service recipients (N = 204). Of these recipients, 60 completed a survey. Nonparametric tests were selected for data analysis.

RESULTS. Of 204 ACT clients, 38 (18.6%) were pet owners. Twenty-four (63.2%) of 38 responding non–pet owners desired to live with a pet. There were significant differences between groups on diagnosis, gender, a global measure of function, meaningful activity, and psychological integration.

CONCLUSION. The key finding supports the hypothesis that pet owners with serious mental illness living in the community demonstrate higher social community integration. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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