Researchers examind equine-assisted learning

May 30, 2013

Researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture recently completed one of the first studies to explore how working with horses can develop emotional intelligence in humans. UK Center for Leadership Development researchers, Patricia Dyk and Lissa Pohl, collaborated with UK HealthCare nurse researchers, Carol Noriega, Janine Lindgreen and Robyn Cheung on the two-year study, titled "The Effectiveness of Equine Guided Leadership Education to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Expert Nurses."

"With Lexington being known as the Horse Capital of the World, it is only fitting that the University of Kentucky is conducting pioneering research in the emerging field of equine assisted learning," said Patricia Dyk, director of the Center for Leadership Development.

The project included a control group of 10 from the Neuroscience Surgery Service Line and an consisting of 11 nurses from the Trauma and Acute Care Surgical Service Line at UK Chandler Hospital. At the start of the study and again six months later, both groups took the online assessment appraising emotional intelligence. Nurses in the intervention group participated in a one-day workshop that involved experiential learning with horses.

"Each exercise in the workshop was designed to develop the four competency areas of self-awareness, self-management, and relationship management," said Lissa Pohl, research project manager and workshop facilitator.

Nurses from the intervention group filled out qualitative surveys immediately after their experience with the horses and again three months after the workshop.

The before and after survey results showed there was an increase in the scores of the intervention group in all four competency areas when compared to the . The researchers admitted, though, that the small number of participants in the study makes it difficult to conclude that working with the horses was the cause of the intervention group's increase.

Marie-Claude Stockl was the co-facilitator for the workshop with the nurses. She owns the Horse Institute, and as such, facilitates equine-assisted learning workshops for corporate groups in central New York state.

"We are thrilled to get this research completed, because it builds the credibility of all organizations offering this type of learning experience," she said.

According to Pohl, the initial results are encouraging and they lay the groundwork for subsequent studies of larger and more diverse populations of nurses. 

"If horses can increase our ability to understand ourselves and others better, then the healthcare industry is a perfect place for studies like these," she said. "When nurses and doctors benefit from collaborating with horses then ultimately their patients also benefit."

Explore further: Cognitive behavioral therapy helps nurses manage stress

More information:

Related Stories

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps nurses manage stress

July 31, 2012

(HealthDay) -- A once-weekly cognitive behavioral intervention (CBI) significantly reduces nurses' occupational stress and fatigue and increases vigor, according to research published in the August issue of Applied Nursing ...

Web learning improves nurses' triage skills

January 17, 2013

(HealthDay)—Web-based learning is effective at standardizing training for triage skills of registered nurses (RNs), according to a review published in the January issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

What makes a nurse's day extraordinary

April 22, 2013

A small group of experienced nurses were asked to describe the characteristics of an extraordinary day at work. The one universal theme was 'making a difference'. The authors say it is important for managers to know what ...

Meditation, stretching ease PTSD symptoms in nurses

May 29, 2013

Practicing a form of meditation and stretching can help relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and normalize stress hormone levels, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's ...

Recommended for you

Men more likely to be seen as 'creative thinkers'

September 28, 2015

People tend to associate the ability to think creatively with stereotypical masculine qualities, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings ...

Babies time their smiles to make their moms smile in return

September 23, 2015

Why do babies smile when they interact with their parents? Could their smiles have a purpose? In the Sept. 23 issue of PLOS ONE, a team of computer scientists, roboticists and developmental psychologists confirm what most ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.