A qualitative content analysis of an online forum for people with kidney disease: Exploring the role of companion and non-companion animals

Tara Jackson, Anna Chur-Hansen, Emily Duncanson, Shilpanjali Jesudason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Companion and other animals have been known to promote wellbeing of people living with chronic disease by assisting in emotional regulation, social interaction and enhancing self-identity. However, little is known about the impact of animals on people with kidney disease, who often live with treatment burden, as well as compromised immune systems making them vulnerable to zoonotic diseases. Objectives: To explore the impact companion and non-companion animals have on the lives of people living with kidney disease. Design: Qualitative Content Analysis of 518 posts from an online forum. Participants: One hundred seventy-two people (109 female, 41 male and 22 unknown) posting to an online forum for people undergoing kidney dialysis. Results: Benefits of bonds with animals included reciprocal love and affection, emotional support, stress reduction, aiding relaxation, assisting social interaction, animals' intuitive comfort when unwell, feelings of loyalty, and motivation to live, concerns relating to zoonotic disease risk, and patients' impressions of health professionals' opinions on animals. Conclusions: This study reinforces the existence of strong bonds between humans and animals, as well as demonstrating the importance of and concerns regarding interacting with non-companion animals for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). There is a mismatch between patients' perception of infection risk and the advice and opinions of some healthcare professionals. Recognition and support for the role of animals as social supports are warranted in history taking, patient education of risk, and the biopsychosocial benefits of animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Renal Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • human-animal bond
  • kidney diseases
  • zoonoses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing

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