'There's More to a Dog Guide than Meets the Eye' A Mixed Methods Investigation into the Self-reported benefits of having a Dog Guide.

Author: Geraldine Frances Lane

Lane, Geraldine Frances, 2014 'There's More to a Dog Guide than Meets the Eye' A Mixed Methods Investigation into the Self-reported benefits of having a Dog Guide., Flinders University, School of Health Sciences

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The choice of mobility aid is a very important aspect of ensuring safe mobility for people who are blind or vision impaired. The most commonly used mobility aids are the long cane and the dog guide. The role of the dog guide is well known; dog guides are well recognised as being effective mobility aids for people who are blind or vision impaired. There has, however, been a paucity of research exploring potential health benefits that may be associated with working with a dog guide. This study goes some way in redressing this lack of research and explores self-reported benefits, from individuals using dog guides as their preferred mobility aid. The issues examined in this thesis, consider whether working with a dog guide has an impact on the physical and psychosocial health of dog guide handlers (DGH). The research examines issues such as general health, emotional wellbeing and exercise potential. The researcher believes that the research will have positive implications for service provision and will improve the available information regarding dog guide mobility for potential DGH. The research examines any potential for diverse benefit beyond mobility and it will assist individuals to consider the advantages and disadvantages of working with a dog guide, especially issues surrounding health. This descriptive study took place in Australia during the years 2010-2013 and canvassed the opinion of 161 participants who are blind or vision impaired from across the country who use a dog guide as their primary mobility aid. The study is based on a mixed methods approach, using quantitative and qualitative methodology. This thesis is the first study of this scale undertaken in Australia (over 19 per cent of the total number of dog guide users in Australia were involved in the research) and provides valuable and current information regarding the potential impact on health that may be obtained from working with a dog guide.

Keywords: Dog guides,mobility aid,blind or vision impaired,health

Subject: Disability Studies thesis, Health Sciences thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2014
School: School of Health Sciences
Supervisor: Doctor Brian Matthews