ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

The use of animal-assisted interventions (aaIs) to achieve psychological benefits has expanded rapidly over the last few years. However, this is a vastly under-researched area, and the research to date has been largely descriptive, in the form of case studies, or has used only small groups of participants with no control condition. Remarkably few studies have utilized gold standard randomized controlled designs. The aim of the present review was to examine the current state of the literature in regard to only randomized controlled trials (RCts) examining the psychosocial benefits of aaIs, which is a necessary step in order to move the field forward. A search of relevant databases was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and meta-analyses (PRISma) guidelines. A total of 66,180 articles were identified at the outset; this was reduced to eight articles (involving 7 studies), following the removal of duplicates (39,377), unrelated titles (26,525), and those that did not meet inclusion criteria (270). Findings from the present review suggest that aaIs may be of benefit to a wide range of individuals, including children with autism, and adults with psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. However, further research using well-designed RCts is required to more definitively explore what specific types of aaI are beneficial for specific populations. Recommendations for future research are provided.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... Das Tier muss zudem als Kooperationspartner gewonnen werden, was spontane Eigenreflexionen auslöst, da beim Tierkontakt die eigenen Grenzen reflektiert und beachtet werden müssen. Überlegungen zur eigenen aktiven Einflussnahme sollten unterstützt werden, indem man aufgefordert wird, sich auf bestimmte Aspekte von Wahrnehmung oder Verhalten zu fokussieren (Maujean et al., 2015). Idealerweise sollte auch die Möglichkeit bestehen, die Übung zu wiederholen. ...
... n. Pottmann-Knapp, 2013 Wenn man erklärt, dass unachtsam sein am Verhalten des Tieres deutlich wird, erkennen Patienten den Zusammenhang und zeigen eine bessere Achtsamkeit bei aktiven TGT-Übungen, aber auch den klassischen wahrnehmenden Achtsamkeitsübungen (Maujean et al., 2015). ...
... Wichtig bei der TGT ist es, genau in diesen Momenten den Transfer in den zwischenmenschlichen Alltag zu thematisieren. Die Patient*innen sehen die TGT eher als dyadische Beziehung zwischen sich und dem Tier, Therapeut*innen sollten immer wieder die triadische Beziehungsgestaltung (Patient*in-Tier-Therapeut*in) beachten (Maujean et al., 2015). ...
Article
Die Tiergestützte Therapie ist keine eigene Therapieform, sondern ergänzt durch ihren integrativen Ansatz und ihre Methodenvielfalt verschiedene andere Therapien auf wertvolle Weise, um Genesungsprozesse zu fördern. Ähnlichkeiten zur Verhaltenstherapie finden sich hinsichtlich von Erklärungsmodellen und Methoden. Das Wohlbefinden aller beteiligten Lebewesen muss beachtet werden. Dieser Artikel beschriebt Grundlagen, Wirkmechanismen und Ablauf bei der psychotherapeutischen Arbeit mit Tieren und legt dabei den Fokus auf Gemeinsamkeiten zur Verhaltenstherapie anhand von Grundbedürfnissen und Wirkfaktoren.
... Our population is aging and loneliness and the problems it causes are subject to an ongoing public debate. People usually keep pets for their personal pleasure and pets have been shown to have a positive effect on health [1], [2]. But keeping pets is increasingly being criticized from a modern animal ethics point of view [3] and is no longer acceptable for many people that follow a vegan life-style. ...
... With this approach, they might be an alternative to Dynamixel servos widely used in the robotics community, e.g. in [10]. 1 A Sensorimotor includes an integrated H-bridge for driving a DC motor, an RS485 transceiver for communication and a microcontroller. It has integrated sensors for current, voltage, and temperature as well as reverse polarity protection. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Social robots can be an alternative to pets for people who cannot, do not want to, or are not allowed to keep animals. But there are only a few robots that move toward fulfilling the function of a pet. We present flatcat, a new minimalist pet-like social robot that reacts to human touch in a way not seen with such robots before and that does not mimic existing animals. Here, we describe its mechanical, electrical, and software design and present early user reactions. With this robot we strive to provide an immersive tactile experience through cognitive sensorimotor loops and aim to maintain user interest through variations in robot behavior driven by intrinsic motivation.
... The fields of AAA and AAT are similar in their inclusion of an animal as a core component of the process. However, AAT involves a trained health professional working towards a measurable goal (Friesen, 2010;Maujean et al., 2015), whereas AAA is a more informal, less structured approach (Maujean et al., 2015). Both fall under the term animal-assisted interventions (AAI) (Pet Partners, n.d.). ...
... The fields of AAA and AAT are similar in their inclusion of an animal as a core component of the process. However, AAT involves a trained health professional working towards a measurable goal (Friesen, 2010;Maujean et al., 2015), whereas AAA is a more informal, less structured approach (Maujean et al., 2015). Both fall under the term animal-assisted interventions (AAI) (Pet Partners, n.d.). ...
Article
Canine-assisted activities in schools can benefit students’ educational, emotional, and social needs. Furthermore, they could be an effective form of non-clinical mental health treatment for children and adolescents. In the United Kingdom, school dogs are growing in popularity, however, little is known about how parents perceive canine-assisted activities as a treatment option. This is important as parental perceptions can influence engagement, whilst lack of awareness can become a barrier to treatment. This study uses a cross-sectional design to quantitatively explore the acceptability of canine-assisted activities amongst UK-based parents (n = 318) of children aged six to 16 (M = 10.12, SD = 3.22). An online survey used a treatment evaluation to determine acceptability across three use-cases. These included a child reading to dogs to improve literacy skills, a child interacting one-to-one to foster greater self-esteem and social skills, and a classroom dog to improve student behaviour and motivation. Additionally, the scale for generalised anxiety disorder was used to rank child anxiety as high or low, where high was a score equal to or above the UK clinical borderline threshold. The results found canine-assisted activities were less acceptable for the behavioural than the reading and social use-cases. Furthermore, parents of children with high anxiety had higher acceptability scores than parents of children with low anxiety for the reading and social use-cases but not for the behavioural use case. These findings suggest that UK parents' acceptability of canine-assisted activities in schools is mediated by child anxiety score. Furthermore, that parents may be less aware of the benefits of classroom dogs than other types of school-based canine-assisted activities.
... They do not focus solely on the perceptions and experiences of HCPs and staff while utilizing a qualitative systematic review methodology. For instance, quantitative systematic reviews have studied the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapies, 7,10,11,20,21 including psychosocial outcomes, 22 benefits and risks, 4 and patient benefits. 6 A scoping review was conducted to examine the benefits of nature-based interventions, which included both qualitative and quantitative studies involving AAIs; however, these did not include appraisal of the evidence. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: The objective of this review is to examine the perceptions and experiences of health care professionals and staff in implementing or coordinating animal-assisted interventions in health care settings. Introduction: Animal-assisted interventions are applied in the areas of health, education, and human services to help improve individuals' health and wellness. The positive effects of animal-assisted interventions on individuals have been shown in multiple health disciplines from pediatrics to long-term care and include outcomes such as decreased feelings of loneliness and increased feelings of support. The increase of animal-assisted interventions in human health initiated growing research on health care professionals' perceptions and experiences of these interventions. No current qualitative systematic reviews have focused solely on health care professionals' and staff's perceptions of animal-assisted interventions. Conducting such a review will advance understanding of how these providers perceive and engage with animal-assisted interventions as well as their influence and role in coordinating these interventions. Inclusion criteria: This review will consider qualitative primary studies that address the perceptions and experiences of health care professionals and staff in implementing or coordinating animal-assisted interventions in health care settings. Studies published from database inception to present and in English will be considered. Methods: Nine bibliographic databases will be systematically searched for published and unpublished studies by employing a three-step search strategy. Two reviewers will independently appraise the studies and extract qualitative data using the standardized JBI critical appraisal and data extraction instruments. Findings from the review will be categorized according to similarity in meaning and categories subjected to a meta-synthesis to produce a single comprehensive set of synthesized findings. Systematic review registration number: PROSPERO (CRD42021258909).
Article
Animal‐assisted Interventions (AAIs) have been used as therapeutic interventions aimed at improving psychological well‐being, often for young people with mental health and educational difficulties. This qualitative study explored how three students (male and female), aged 12–15 and with ASD and/or ADHD diagnoses experienced AAI at an alternative education provision. Semi‐structured interviews with each participant were conducted and analysed using constructivist thematic analysis. Three themes and four sub‐themes were identified. The themes were: (1) Self‐esteem, with sub‐themes motivation and reward, and self‐awareness, (2) Emotional benefits with strategy building, and support and (3) Identification. Participants valued AAI as a positive intervention which aided their psychological well‐being. Findings emphasise the effectiveness of AAIs for young people with neurodevelopmental disorders in both a therapeutic and an educational context.
Article
Interest in animal-assisted interventions within the field of communication sciences and disorders is growing. As more clinicians become interested in engaging in animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and more researchers begin to study its potential benefits, it will be critical for all stakeholders to demonstrate knowledge of the standards and qualifications for service delivery as well as the challenges that must be met in developing an evidence base for clinical practice. This review highlights some of the foundational information relevant to AAT in the context of speech-language pathology.
Article
The Animals and Society Institute facilitates an annual interdisciplinary meeting of emerging scholars from around the world, encouraging attendees to interrogate what it means to be a scholar, with an emphasis on animal studies within our respective disciplines. In that vein, we assess what it means to be an emerging animal-studies scholar in three interconnected but distinct academic disciplines: anthropology, sociology, and social work. We elaborate on three dominant themes: (1) the place of animals or the “animal turn”; (2) our subjectivity and how we find unorthodox networks or what Donna Haraway refers to as our “oddkin”; (3) and our inherent roles as interdisciplinary scholars and the liminal positions we occupy, as we address complex social problems like climate change. By reflecting on how we have encountered barriers and overly strict binaries collectively and as individuals, we can begin to deconstruct these obstacles and create opportunities.
Article
This meta-analysis was conducted to determine the effect of animal-assistant therapy on the quality of life of older adults. This research systematically searched electronic databases (CINAHL, Cochrane Central, Medline/PubMed, Web of Science, Science Direct, and the National Thesis Centre and ULAKBİM of the Council of Higher Education) for studies published between April – June 2021. Seven studies with experimental design were used, three were quasi-experimental and four were randomly controlled studies. The total sample size in the meta-analysis was 375 (experimental group: 177 and control group: 198). The mean duration of animal-assistant therapy was 38.5 ± 12.4 min. Animal-assistant therapy had a significant effect on the quality of life of older adults (mean difference: -4.59 p: 0.03, Z:2.23). Therefore, animal assistant therapy is an effective method to improve older adults’ quality of life.
Article
Museums in the US have a responsibility to provide accessible facilities stipulated by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Unfortunately, programming adjustments beyond physical accessibility is generally an emerging consideration or only implemented in large, established institutions. Although some museums have implemented disability-specific programming, focusing on more universal challenges of access (e.g., sensory needs) can increase accessibility in a museum of any size and budget. The following manuscript presents an example of a small science museum in a mid-size city and the development and implementation process of innovative sensory-sensitive programming for community members with disabilities and their families. By addressing a common characteristic that spans across different disabilities, the Sensory Sensitive Program (SSP) was successfully implemented and attended by a diverse array of community members. Feedback from patrons attending the pilot event is reported and used to inform the iterative development process for the program. Considerations for future implementation of SSP are provided.
Article
Although prison-based animal programs (PAPs) are not routinely available in rehabilitation plans at correctional facilities, they may represent a viable treatment option given the growing evidence showing that interacting with animals develops vocational skills, decreases behavioral infractions, and fosters social skills and psychological wellbeing for prisoners. However, little is known about the general public’s attitudes towards PAPs, especially in relation to other treatment options. Understanding attitudes towards PAPs is relevant because these programs often depend on donations, coordination with non-profit agencies, and adoption fees from animal shelters to operate. This study examines whether individuals consider PAPs an acceptable treatment option for prisoners, and whether those decisions are influenced by prisoner characteristics. Using survey methodology with convenience sampling, 250 participants read vignettes that manipulated the characteristics of the prisoner by gender (male or female), ethnicity (Caucasian, African American, Indigenous/Native American), and crime (misdemeanor, murder, or sexual assault), and then evaluated the treatment acceptability of four treatment options (dog visitation, dog training and vocational programs, psychological counseling, or no treatment). While participants rated counseling most acceptable and no treatment least acceptable, opinions about PAPs varied. We found a gender × crime interaction, whereby participants rated PAPs more acceptable for prisoners who committed minor crimes, especially if they were female. We also found an ethnicity × crime interaction, whereby participants rated PAPs more acceptable for prisoners who committed minor crimes, especially if Indigenous or Caucasian. Our results highlight the presence of implicit bias in participant’s ratings of treatment acceptability. We discuss implications for rehabilitation programs.
Article
Full-text available
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are essential to summarize evidence relating to efficacy and safety of health care interventions accurately and reliably. The clarity and transparency of these reports, however, is not optimal. Poor reporting of systematic reviews diminishes their value to clinicians, policy makers, and other users.Since the development of the QUOROM (QUality Of Reporting Of Meta-analysis) Statement--a reporting guideline published in 1999--there have been several conceptual, methodological, and practical advances regarding the conduct and reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Also, reviews of published systematic reviews have found that key information about these studies is often poorly reported. Realizing these issues, an international group that included experienced authors and methodologists developed PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) as an evolution of the original QUOROM guideline for systematic reviews and meta-analyses of evaluations of health care interventions.The PRISMA Statement consists of a 27-item checklist and a four-phase flow diagram. The checklist includes items deemed essential for transparent reporting of a systematic review. In this Explanation and Elaboration document, we explain the meaning and rationale for each checklist item. For each item, we include an example of good reporting and, where possible, references to relevant empirical studies and methodological literature. The PRISMA Statement, this document, and the associated Web site (http://www.prisma-statement.org/) should be helpful resources to improve reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Article
Full-text available
Animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activities involve a nonhuman animal as a key therapeutic agent in some kind of intervention that may range from highly specified, as in AAT, to more casual, as in AAA. In this review I address the question: How important is the animal in animal therapy? In other words, does the recent literature strongly support the notion that a live animal, as opposed to another novel stimulating component, is specifically necessary for therapeutic success. Two meta-analyses and 28 single empirical studies were reviewed in order to address this issue. I conclude that the effects of AAT and AAA are likely to be moderate and broad at best and that, although improving, the literature has not yet reached an experimentally rigorous enough level to provide a definitive robust conclusion about the effectiveness of these approaches, particularly with regard to the question of whether a live animal is necessary for a therapeutic effect.
Article
Full-text available
There is a significant body of research into the benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) but less into the fields known as equine-assisted learning and therapy (EAL/EAT) where horses are incorporated in therapeutic and learning interventions. This paper explores the experiences of seven 'at-risk' young people who participated in a therapeutic horsemanship (TH) programme. The study followed a practice-near approach seeking to capture the young people's experiences within a participative ethnography. Themes related to the risk and resilience literature such as self-confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy and a sense of mastery, empathy and the opening of positive opportunities are explored in this paper.
Article
The concept of Green care includes a diversity of interventions at farms, where the common basis of the interventions is use of nature and the natural environment to improve or promote health and well-being. Farm animals are a natural part of this service and farm animal-assisted interventions may act as a complementary intervention within mental health care. The main aim of this study was to examine the effect of a 12-week farm animal-assisted intervention on levels of depression (BDI-IA), state anxiety (STAI-SS), and self-efficacy (GSE) in people with clinical depression. Twenty-nine people (23 women and 6 men, mean age 37.8 years, range 23–58) were randomly assigned to the intervention (n = 16) or a wait-list control group (n = 13). In the intervention group, the participants worked twice a week with the farmer in the cowshed. They interacted on their own choice with dairy cattle via work tasks and physical contact. A significant decline in depression (t (15) = –3.53, p = 0.003) and a significant increase in self-efficacy (t (15) = 2.18, p = 0.045) were seen in the intervention group between recruitment and end of intervention. In the control group, no significant changes were found. No significant differences were found when comparing change in mental health measures in the intervention and control groups. However, more subjects in the intervention group (6) than in the control group (1) had clinically significant change, indicating that animal- assisted intervention in Green care could be beneficial for subgroups of clients and act as a useful supplement within mental health care.
Article
From its unpretentious beginnings in pastoral England to the current interest in scientific research and trials of its use, pet therapy is clearly drawing attention to its benefits. Throughout the 40-year history of pet therapy, nursing and nursing research has been at the very heart. The growing body of research in pet therapy reflects nursing's own evolutionary process. This article reviews the history of pet therapy and discusses the growing body of research illustrating the healing power of animal use.
Article
Substantial sums of money are invested annually in preventative medicine and therapeutic treatment for people with a wide range of physical and psychological health problems, sometimes to no avail. There is now mounting evidence to suggest that companion animals, such as dogs and cats, can enhance the health of their human owners and may thus contribute significantly to the health expenditure of our country. This paper explores the evidence that pets can contribute to human health and well-being. The article initially concentrates on the value of animals for short- and long-term physical health, before exploring the relationship between animals and psychological health, focusing on the ability of dogs, cats, and other species to aid the disabled and serve as a “therapist” to those in institutional settings. The paper also discusses the evidence for the ability of dogs to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of specific chronic diseases, notably cancer, epilepsy, and diabetes. Mechanisms underlying the ability of animals to promote human health are discussed within a theoretical framework. Whereas the evidence for a direct causal association between human well-being and companion animals is not conclusive, the literature reviewed is largely supportive of the widely held, and long-standing, belief that “pets are good for us.”
Article
Reviews of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) research suggest the need for better controlled and designed research studies to supplement the many case studies and anecdotal reports. This study reports the results of such an investigation where sixty-nine male and female psychiatric inpatients were randomized to either an AAT psychiatric rehabilitation group or a similarly conducted control group without AAT, to test if AAT can improve prosocial behaviors. The Social Behavior Scale was scored daily by an independent rater and patients were monitored for four weeks. A two-group by weeks repeated measure analysis of variance was conducted for each outcome measure. There were no baseline differences between the two groups on demographics or any of the measures, but by week four, patients in the AAT group were significantly more interactive with other patients, scored higher on measures of smiles and pleasure, were more sociable and helpful with others, and were more active and responsive to surroundings. These data suggest that AAT plays an important role in enhancing the benefits of conventional therapy, and demonstrates the benefit of including a non-AAT group for comparison. The study also demonstrates the importance of using longitudinal, repeated measure designs. Previous studies may have failed to find significant effects because they were restricted to shorter intervals for measuring outcomes.
Article
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been practiced for many years and there is now increasing interest in demonstrating its efficacy through research. To date, no known quantitative review of AAT studies has been published; our study sought to fill this gap. We conducted a comprehensive search of articles reporting on AAT in which we reviewed 250 studies, 49 of which met our inclusion criteria and were submitted to meta-analytic procedures. Overall, AAT was associated with moderate effect sizes in improving outcomes in four areas: Autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. Contrary to expectations, characteristics of participants and studies did not produce differential outcomes. AAT shows promise as an additive to established interventions and future research should investigate the conditions under which AAT can be most helpful.
Article
Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia living in long-term care units show high levels of disability. The present study aimed to assess the effectiveness of including a trained therapy dog in an intervention program applied to institutionalized patients with chronic schizophrenia. A randomized, controlled study with blind assessment was conducted. Twenty-four persons with chronic schizophrenia were randomly selected from a register that included all inpatients at Saint John of God's psychiatric hospital in Spain. Patients who agreed to participate (n = 21) were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups: one group received an intervention assisted by a therapy dog (IG+D) (12 patients), while the other received the same intervention but without a therapy dog (IG) (9 patients). The assessment items included the Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale (PANSS), the Living Skills Profile (LSP), the Brief World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQOL-BREF), and the Satisfaction with Treatment Questionnaire (STQ). Mann Whitney U tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were conducted. Patients in the IG+D group showed significant improvements in the LSP social contact score (p = 0.041), in the positive (p = 0.005) and negative symptom dimensions (p = 0.005) and total score of the PANSS (p = 0.014), and in quality of life related with social relationships (p = 0.024). Patients in the IG group showed significant positive changes in positive (p = 0.027) and general symptoms (p = 0.046) and total PANSS score (p = 0.027). No differences were found between the two groups before and after the application of the intervention. Introducing a dog into the psychosocial intervention for patients with schizophrenia produced some positive outcomes. However, the results of the study are not conclusive and must be interpreted cautiously.
Article
Proper diagnostic assessment in an inpatient psychiatric setting requires observation of patients under various conditions. Group activities such as animal-assisted therapy (A-AT) can provide an excellent opportunity for assessment—but only if the patient chooses to attend. Retrospective analysis of attendance at a major metropolitan inpatient psychiatric unit indicates that over the course of two years (N= 23 months) the A-AT group attracted the highest percentage of inpatients voluntarily choosing to attend an occupational therapy group. It was found that A-AT was the most effective of all groups offered in attracting isolated individuals regardless of diagnosis. The authors conclude that A-AT is an effective tool for diagnostic observation and assessment.