On Demand Sessions

Loneliness, Social Isolation & Companion Animals

About the Session

This session will feature Dr. Nancy Gee, Director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University, for an in-depth overview of an important research project which demonstrates the potential of therapy dog visitations for reduced loneliness, anxiety, and improvements in other health-related outcomes in hospitalized older adults. Dr. Gee will explain how the study was designed and conducted to produce high quality results while adhering to the highest standards of ethical considerations for both people and dogs involved, and discuss the importance of this research from a policy and practice standpoint.

About the Speaker

Nancy Gee, PhD, C-AISS

Director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction, VCU Health

Nancy Gee, PhD, C-AISS, serves as Professor of Psychiatry, Bill Balaban Chair in Human-Animal Interaction, and Director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University. In her role as Director, Dr. Nancy Gee both oversees and actively participates in the three key elements of the Center’s mission: the hospital-focused Dogs on Call therapy dog program; educational activities through the VCU Medical College of Virginia; and research in the field of Human-Animal Interaction (HAI).

Considered a leading researcher and key opinion leader, she has placed a special emphasis on HAI as it relates to the physical and mental health of humans across the developmental lifespan. Dr. Gee’s collaborations with researchers around the world have contributed to her 100+ publications in the field, including peer-reviewed journal articles, edited books, and book chapters.


The Center for Human-Animal Interaction

Established in the VCU School of Medicine in June 2001, and housed in the Department of Psychiatry, the purpose of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction is to provide a formal structure for and promote interdisciplinary and interinstitutional research, clinical, and educational activities related to the human-animal relationship.

Dogs on Call Program

The Dogs On Call Therapy Dog Program provides a complementary therapy to enhance the well being of patients, staff, and students through canine-assisted interventions. Dogs on Call teams visit in most areas of the VCU Medical Center and some offsite locations including Children's Hospital of Richmond at Brook Road and Stony Point Clinics. Dogs On Call teams also participate in special university events, such as Paws for Stress for students during mid-term and final exams.

Current Research Projects

The Center for Human-Animal Interaction is currently conducting three new pilot studies that are randomized controlled trials examining the impact of a therapy dog intervention on loneliness, depression, anxiety and related health outcomes in three vulnerable hospitalized populations.

Mars Petcare

Part of Mars, Incorporated, a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love, the almost 100,000 Associates across 130 countries in Mars Petcare are dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.