Experiences of palliative inpatients with equine therapy

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University of New Brunswick


With advances in modern medicine, Canadians are living longer with chronic illness. While many live at home if possible, those in inpatient units require comfort measures to complement treatment programs. Anecdotal evidence has established that equine (horse) therapy can be beneficial to humans, but there has been limited research about utilizing horse therapy within the inpatient palliative care population in Canada. Using a qualitatively driven mixed methods design, the aim of this study was to understand the experience of the palliative care inpatient with horse therapy. The collective core narrative of “living in the moment” emerged from the threads of quality of life, fatigue, distraction, reminiscence, and identification with the therapy horse. This project outlays an innovative approach for conducting horse therapy within an institutional setting and begins to address the gap in knowledge of the meaning of horse therapy to the adult palliative care inpatient population.