National Health Institutes (NIH) Funded Project 1R21HD097763-01
Evaluating the Efficacy of a Service Dog Training Program for Military Veterans with PTSD. - Completed
This study addresses gaps in evidence-based alternative interventions for PTSD, a critical need given the meager successes of standard therapies. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious public health epidemic, affects approximately 20% of the 18.5 million U.S. veterans, and places them at higher risk for impaired biopsychosocial functioning. Increases in PTSD symptom severity (PTSDSS) cause an inability to regulate emotions, control impulsive behaviors, and function within family and society oftentimes leading to homelessness, divorce, and spousal/child abuse. Anecdotal evidence suggests that training service dogs (SDs) may be rehabilitative for veterans with PTSD, but evidence of efficacy is lacking. We hypothesize that veterans with PTSD who train SDs for fellow veterans will show a reduction in PTSDSS and decreases in stress-related biological and psychosocial outcomes. If the SDTP is successful in reducing PTSDSS in veterans with PTSD and without stressing the dogs it may prove to be a cost-effective rehabilitative opportunity for other at-risk populations.
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Funded Projects
Mind Over Matter: A Veteran-driven Roadmap to Research on Traumatic Brain Injury - Ongoing
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an invisible wound of war and a signature injury of military troops. About 30 percent of those who served in recent conflicts have suffered a TBI. M.O.M. creates a platform that gives veterans with a TBI and their caregivers an active voice in developing a clear pathway for increasing relevance of TBI Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) and Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) and outcomes that are important to them so they can live their healthiest lives. M.O.M. will be the basis for a M.O.M. Roadmap for Research on TBI featuring PCOR topics and CER questions that matter most to veterans which will be translated into a publicly accessible resource.
This program is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (21037-FAU).
Operation Red-White-Blue: Building PCOR Competencies of Veterans and Mental Health - Completed
Due to the stark difference between civilian and military health care systems, there is often a barrier in cultural understanding, communication, and preferences between civilian health care providers–specifically civilian mental health providers (CMHPs and veterans that can cause difficulty in making meaningful, informed health care decisions. In order to better address the barriers in accessing effective, meaningful mental health care for veterans, is necessary to forge collaborative, veteran-centered partnerships and provide informative resources to engage veterans and CMHP in the research process in order to advance mental health-related PCOR and CER that better serves the veteran population. Thus, this project aims to empower veterans and civilian mental health providers to effectively communicate and share knowledge/skills, thus fostering patient-centered, veteran-driven mental health.
This project is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Capacity Award (19941-FAU).
All Hands on Deck: Community Convening to Improve Research on Veteran Suicide Prevention - Completed
Research indicates that low social support and isolation are risk factors for veteran suicide. Despite the importance of social connectedness, there is little research indicating the effectiveness of including concerned significant others (CSOs), e.g., family members, spouses, close friends, and peers in veteran suicide prevention efforts. Integrating social support into treatments for veterans has demonstrated positive results; yet this strategy has not typically been studied within veteran suicide prevention. This project will host “All Hands on Deck: Community Convening to Improve Research on Veteran Suicide Prevention” to facilitate discussions with 200 stakeholders to design innovative engagement strategies with CSOs to improve veteran suicide prevention research. Facilitated groups will discuss ways to engage concerned significant others in PCORI on veteran suicide comparative effectiveness research on (1) firearms safety and (2) crisis response and safety planning research. A Stakeholder Advisory Board will be formed to guide the project to design, plan and run the Convening. After the Convening, the Project leads and board will co-author and disseminate a CSO Engagement Guide to support PCORI in veteran suicide prevention.
This project is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (EACC-18).
MISSION ALLIANCE: Engaging Veteran communities to capture & prioritize PTSD-related PCOR/CER topics related to COVID-19. - Completed
Veterans have an increased lifetime risk of developing PTSD symptoms and may have been significantly affected by the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall purpose of this community engagement project is to educate, train, and equip Mission Alliance (MA) Veteran Unit Leaders and Collaborative Academic Research Members (CARMs) in four regional units in the United States with the knowledge and tools to become full and meaningful partners in Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) and Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER). The MA Regional Unit Members will build capacity for Veterans with PTSD and community stakeholders to participate in PCOR/CER by creating a neutral and engaging environment to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on social isolation, loneliness, mental health, and wellbeing, as well as develop a Veteran-driven PTSD-related PCOR/CER agenda related to COVID-19.
Pratt, B.A. (2022 July). Engaging veteran communities to create a PTSD-related research agenda informed by COVID-19. Trauma Psychology News, 17(2), 20-22. https://z.umn.edu/TPN-2022-Vol17-Issue2
This program was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (EASC-COVID-00237)
VETERAN’S ACTION LEAGUE 2.0: Developing a National Veteran-Centered Chronic Pain Research Agenda - Completed
Dr. Cheryl Krause-Parello and her colleagues from Maryland, Rutgers, Ohio State, Rush, Augusta, Duke, Loyola, and George Mason universities, are studying chronic pain and working to find solutions for veterans. According to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, chronic pain is a serious health and societal concern in the U.S. affecting 40-70% of veterans, making it one of the leading causes of disability and creating significant negative impacts upon the lives of millions of veterans. The veteran population may pose greater challenges to treat based on military history and injury. Pain-reducing medication, like opioids, are a common treatment. This project moves away from “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” giving veterans an active voice in chronic pain management and treatment options.
This program was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (10454-IC).
Social and Chronic Pain: Veterans sharing a path in developing a patient-centered response to the COVID-19 pandemic - Completed
With a large population of veterans experiencing chronic pain on a daily basis, interventions for pain management and relief are difficult, if not impossible, for many to achieve. Neurological and psychological evidence has shown that socially distressing circumstances–such as social distancing and isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic–may increase the susceptibility to chronic pain. In order to address the needs of veterans’ living with chronic pain, the Veterans’ Action League (VAL) 2.0 was created to provide veterans with a platform to actively voice their unique needs and challenges regarding chronic pain management and treatment options that are most important to them. With an enhancement award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Dr. Cheryl Krause-Parello and her colleagues from Florida Atlantic University, Rutgers, Augusta, Ohio State, and University of Rochester were given the opportunity to advance VAL 2.0 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to continue engaging veterans in patient centered outcomes research (PCOR) and comparative effectiveness research (CER). Veterans and key stakeholders will collaborate to explore and discuss past successful interventions, dilemmas veterans and stakeholders are facing during the pandemic, and methods to increase veterans’ social engagement and engagement capacity in PCOR/CER as full partners in the search for chronic pain treatment interventions that are meaningful to the veteran population in times of social distancing and isolation.
This project is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute® (PCORI®) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (10454-IC).
Operation PCOR: Training Veterans as Partners in PTSD Research - Completed
C-P.A.W.W. has been awarded through an Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award to develop, pilot and evaluate a nationally accessible, asynchronous, veteran-driven, online research training program designed specifically to prepare and train veterans to function as full partners in the research enterprise. To develop this, the National Advisory Board (NAB), which consists of veterans and researchers, will set training priorities, goals and objectives, inform curriculum development and teaching strategies, and evaluate the quality, teaching strategies, and learning outcomes of the training program. Operation PCOR will also develop 'VetResearchHub'. This is a web-based platform where veterans who have completed the Operation PCOR training can enlist as trained research partners and join forces with researchers on PTSD-related Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) and Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER).
This program was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (5548-FAU-IC).
Military-Focused AAI Research
Veterans and their dogs: A nationwide survey examining dog functional types, human-dog relationships, mental health, wellness, and sleep outcomes - Completed
The overall purpose of this study was to examine dog types and their impact on Veterans’ health and well-being with Dr. Krause-Parello and Dr. Christine Spadola as principal investigators.
Photobiomodulation - Ongoing
This study is being offered through a partnership with our trusted community partners, the Grey Team. We are seeking to understand how low-level light therapy treatment affects Veterans with mild Traumatic Brain Injury. During this 12-week project, participants will be assigned to an intervention group or a waitlist group. Participants in the intervention group will visit the Grey Team facility in Boca Raton 3 times a week for eight weeks and one time four weeks after treatment. Participants will wear a helmet that emits LED low-level light for 30 minutes at each visit, complete an electroencephalogram at 4-time points, submit biologic samples at 3-time points, and complete a series of surveys at 4-time points. The Waitlist group will visit the Grey Team facility at 3-time points, complete an electroencephalogram at 3-time points, submit biologic samples at 2-time points, complete a series of surveys at 3- time points, and will be offered the intervention at a later time.
If you are a Military Veteran with a mild TBI and would be interested in this exciting opportunity feel free to contact the Principal Investigators Drs. Chad Forbes (email@example.com), Behnaz Ghoraani (firstname.lastname@example.org), Cheryl Krause- Parello (email@example.com), or Beth Pratt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Veteran Canine Rescue Mission (VCRM) - Ongoing
The Veteran Canine Rescue Mission (VCRM) is a new and innovative program pairing Florida Atlantic University (FAU) student, alumni and community veterans with shelter dogs. This program is being offered through a partnership with a trusted animal shelter in our community, the Humane Society of Broward County (HSBC) and the FAU’s Military and Veterans Student Success Center. The Mission provides veterans with a dog that has been pre-selected under the guidance of a veteran who is a certified dog trainer. Dog adoptions will be followed with a 10-day board and train training regimen for each dog, prior to the dog going to its new home. This is followed by eight sessions of private dog training lessons. The Mission decreases the number of shelter dogs in our community, while providing a non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention for veterans with sub-optimal mental health and wellness. In addition, biopsychosocial assessments will be collected at multiple time points throughout the animal-assisted intervention.
For more information, please contact a research team member,
My Dog, My Hero: Digital Storytelling Project - Completed
Given that Veterans may experience a decrease in quality of life compared to the civilian population, it is imperative to engage Veterans in meaningful and appropriate interventions that aim to promote health and psychosocial well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Veterans are at risk for impaired physical and mental health; however, canine companions may ameliorate these issues. By its nature, a digital video storytelling intervention connects humans to other humans and in this case, to their dogs. Together with research assistants, Veterans are creating a digital video story about their dog’s impact on their life. There is no published research examining the effect of a digital video storytelling intervention on psychophysiological outcomes in Veterans. Further, digital stories about the importance of one’s pet have not been undertaken in a systematic way. The psychosocial measures of this project may provide evidence regarding the impact of dogs on Veterans’ health.
This project was funded through FAU CEL-CON Project-Based Faculty Strategic Excellence Award
Spouses of Veterans With Mental Health Challenges and Pet Dogs - Completed
Exploring human-animal bonds Description: Spouses are a major source of support for veterans who receive care for mental health challenges. These challenges, however, often cause stress for spouses and affect their well-being. Animal-assisted interventions are complementary and integrative treatment options that may improve health and well-being. Little research has focused on the therapeutic effects that dogs have on spouses living with veterans who have mental health challenges, therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore the nature and effects of the human-animal bond between these spouses and their pet dogs. PI: Pratt; Co I: Krause-Parello
Military Veterans and Shelter Dogs: One Rescue at a Time - Completed
C-P.A.W.W. received the Collaborative Research Award from the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) and the WALTHAM Foundation to conduct a study in partnership with Animal House Rescue & Grooming and MaxFund Animal Adoption Center. The research team investigateD the effects of walking shelter dogs upon a cohort of veterans. We examined salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels, heart rate variability, and blood pressure pre-dog walk, immediately post-dog walk, and 30 minutes post-dog walk in a group of reintegrating veterans with and without post traumatic stress disorder. We took concurrent psychosocial measures throughout the course of the study to assess quality of life, relationships, animal bonding, perceived stress, and pet attitude. Additionally, we collected HRV data from the shelter dogs as a biological stress measure.
Working Dogs for Wounded Warriors: Understanding Patient Stress in Aeromedical Evacuation and the Impact of Animal Assisted Intervention - Completed
Dr. Krause-Parello was the associate investigator of this study investigating the biobehavioral and psychobiologic interface among animal-assisted intervention and stress indicators, salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase, and IgA, as well as blood pressure and pulse, in wounded warriors undergoing aeromedical evacuation from Ramstein, Germany to the Aeromedical Staging Facility at Andrews Air Force Base.
Veterans and Service Dogs: An in Depth Exploration on Restoring Independence - Completed
This study explored the relationship between military veterans and their service dogs. A qualitative study was conducted to explore potential constructs relating to the impact of service dogs on veterans. Many veterans reintegrating into civilian life have service connected conditions (e.g., PTSD, TBI). The overarching aim was to explore the impact of service dogs on veterans’ health and reintegration into civilian life.
Canine Visitation and Hospitalized Older Veterans: An Innovative Approach to Impacting Stress Indicators - Completed
This study investigated the effects of canine interaction on stress responses (salivary cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase, immunoglobulin A, blood pressure, and heart rate) in senior veterans receiving palliative care at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System in Denver, CO.
Relationships Among Loneliness, Human Social Support, Pet Attachment Support, and Subjective Well-being in Older Adults - Completed
The goal of this project was to study the relationships among loneliness, social support, pet attachment support, and subjective well-being in older adults. Dr. Krause-Parello was the principal investigator.
Military Focused Research