Lower Emotional Exhaustion among Employees Is Associated with Intentional Incorporation of Animals into Residential Care Settings

Kimberly I. Tumlin, Elizabeth N. Riley, Olga Vsevolozhskaya, Michael Cull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Secondary effects of animal-integrated programming on residential care center (RCC) staff and organizational culture are not well understood. We explored emotional exhaustion among RCC employees both in facilities that incorporated animals and those that did not incorporate animals into the therapeutic environment. We conducted a survey throughout a large midwestern RCC system in the United States to determine relationships between organizational culture, emotional exhaustion, and the intentionality by which animals were incorporated into programming. Data were analyzed by examining associations between variables of interest using chi-square or t-tests, and linear mixed-effects modeling was used to identify potential confounding effects due to differences in children served within RCCs. Staff from RCCs that used animals intentionally reported lower emotional exhaustion (p = 0.006), and higher average workplace safety (p = 0.024) and psychological safety (p < 0.001). Integrating animals into RCC programming is associated with elements of a strong organizational culture. It is possible that animal-integrated programming has a positive impact on the facility culture and workforce, and/or that RCCs with strong pre-existing cultures are more likely to use animal-integrated programming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number421
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through grant number UL1TR001998. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • animals
  • burnout
  • organizational culture
  • psychological safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • Psychology (all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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