Examining the role of pets in cancer survivors' physical and mental wellbeing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Australian cancer survivors have multiple wellbeing support needs, and Australians frequently keep pets, a practice associated with physical and mental health benefits. This mixed-methods study explores the influence of relationships of PERMA (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment) wellbeing domains and pet ownership on cancer survivors' physical and mental wellbeing and quality of life.

Methods: A convenience sample of Australian cancer survivors (N = 162) were surveyed, recording demographic, pet ownership, PERMA wellbeing, physical and mental health characteristics, and support needs. Quality of life and health scores were predicted from PERMA domains and pet ownership.

Results: Pet ownership was highly prevalent in participating cancer survivors, predicting increased mental health scores. No associations were seen for physical health. Cancer survivors sought instrumental pet care support and pet-owner relationship maintenance during survivorship.

Implications: Pet ownership may be leverageable in interventions for mental health and wellbeing improvement during cancer recovery. Research should next clarify pet ownership prevalence in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • older adults
  • pets
  • quality of life
  • survivorship
  • wellbeing


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