The influence of companion animals on quality of life of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with prostate cancer

Morgan M. Wright, Pamela Schreiner, B. R. Simon Rosser, Elizabeth J. Polter, Darryl Mitteldorf, William West, Michael W. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There has been almost no research on associations of companion animals with quality of life in sexual minorities. Because gay and bisexual men have less social support than their heterosexual peers, some have argued that pet companionship could provide emotional support, while others have argued the opposite, that having a pet is another stressor. This analysis examines the association between having dogs, cats, both animals, or no animals and quality of life using the 12-item Short Form (SF-12) mental and physical composite quality of life scores for gay and bisexual prostate cancer survivors, post-treatment. Participants were 189 gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, who completed online surveys in 2015. Linear regression analysis found that participants with cats and participants with dogs had lower mental quality of life scores than participants without pets. After adjustment for covariates, mental health scores remained significantly lower for cat owners, dog owners, and owners of both animals compared to those of participants who did not have pets. No differences were seen for physical quality of life scores after adjustment. We conclude that pet companionship may be a net stressor for gay and bisexual men following prostate cancer treatment. As this is the first study of pet companionship in sexual minorities, further research is needed to confirm the reliability of these findings, generalizability, and temporality of the association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4457
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 13 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: The Restore Study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI): “Understanding the Effects of Prostate Cancer on Gay and Bisexual Men,” (Grant number: 1 R21 CA182041; PI: B.R.S. Rosser) and undertaken with oversight from the University of Minnesota, institutional review board (study number: 1509S77722).


  • Cancer
  • Health benefits
  • Pet companionship
  • Prostate
  • Psychological benefits
  • Sexual minorities

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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