We conclude that pet ownership confers no health benefits for this age group. Instead, those with pets have poorer mental and physical health and use more pain relief medication.
They could just as easily conclude that people with poorer mental and physical health, or those who suffer from pain, seek out the company of pets to provide social support, as suggested by the experimental data in McConnell et al. (2011).
I agree. Correlation does not prove causation and often confuses effect and cause...or finds correlations between two effect of another, unnoticed, cause. I found the article while trying (with no success) to locate a study I remember hearing of that showed that 'elders' with pets lived longer than those without pets. Science brainwashing says you MUST not throw out evidence that goes against your biases. Us dog lovers are inclined to look for evidence that shows our dogs are good for us. But we shouldn't discard other evidence.