The Effect of Pets on Human Mental Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19 Lockdown in Malaysia

Dasha Grajfoner, Guek Nee Ke, Rachel Mei Ming Wong

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Abstract

The adverse impact of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) on mental and physical health has been witnessed across the globe. Associated mental health and wellbeing issues include stress, social isolation, boredom, and anxiety. Research suggests human–animal interactions may improve the overall wellbeing of an individual. However, this has been less explored in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and the present study examined the effect of pets on the mental health and wellbeing of Malaysians during the lockdown, or movement control order (MCO), due to COVID-19 pandemic. A cross-sectional survey was carried out, with 448 Malaysian participants, who completed online assessments for psychological outcomes, psychological wellbeing, positive–negative emotions, resilience, and coping self-efficacy. Results indicate that pet owners reported significantly better coping self-efficacy, significantly more positive emotions, and better psychological wellbeing, but contrary to expectations, there was no differences on other measures. Among pet owners, cat owners reported more positive emotions and greater wellbeing than dog owners. The results show that that pets have some impact on improved psychological health of their owners and could be integrated into recovery frameworks for promoting mental health and wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2689
JournalAnimals
Volume11
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • pets in Malaysia
  • human–animal interactions
  • COVID-19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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