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Review

Methodological and Terminological Issues in Animal-Assisted Interventions: An Umbrella Review of Systematic Reviews

1
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Productions, Federico II University of Naples, via Mezzocannone, 8-80134 Naples, Italy
2
University Centre SinAPSi, Federico II University of Naples, via G.C. Cortese, 29-80133 Naples, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(5), 759; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050759
Received: 14 March 2020 / Revised: 24 April 2020 / Accepted: 25 April 2020 / Published: 27 April 2020
Animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) include a wide range of activities aimed at improving the health and well-being of people with the help of pets. Although there have been many studies on the effects of these interventions on animal and human wellbeing and health, univocal data on the methodological aspects, regarding type and duration of intervention, operators, involved animal species, and so on, are still lacking. In this regard, several systematic reviews in the scientific literature have already explored and outlined some methodological aspects of animal-assisted interventions. Therefore, we developed an umbrella review (UR) which summarizes the data of a set of suitable systematic reviews (SRs), in order to clarify how these Interventions are carried out. From our results, it is shown that there is a widespread heterogeneity in the scientific literature concerning the study and implementation of these interventions. These results highlight the need for the development and, consequently, the diffusion of protocols (not only operational, but also research approaches) providing for a univocal use of globally recognized terminologies and facilitating comparison between the numerous experiences carried out and reported in the field.
Recently, animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), which are defined as psychological, educational, and rehabilitation support activities, have become widespread in different contexts. For many years, they have been a subject of interest in the international scientific community and are at the center of an important discussion regarding their effectiveness and the most appropriate practices for their realization. We carried out an umbrella review (UR) of systematic reviews (SRs), created for the purpose of exploring the literature and aimed at deepening the terminological and methodological aspects of AAIs. It is created by exploring the online databases PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library. The SRs present in the high-impact indexed search engines Web of Sciences and Scopus are selected. After screening, we selected 15 SRs that met the inclusion criteria. All papers complained of the poor quality of AAIs; some considered articles containing interventions that did not always correspond to the terminology they have explored and whose operating practices were not always comparable. This stresses the need for the development and consequent diffusion of not only operational protocols, but also research protocols which provide for the homogeneous use of universally recognized terminologies, thus facilitating the study, deepening, and comparison between the numerous experiences described. View Full-Text
Keywords: Animal-assisted therapy; animal-assisted activity; animal-assisted education; dog; Horse; methodology Animal-assisted therapy; animal-assisted activity; animal-assisted education; dog; Horse; methodology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Santaniello, A.; Dicé, F.; Claudia Carratú, R.; Amato, A.; Fioretti, A.; Menna, L.F. Methodological and Terminological Issues in Animal-Assisted Interventions: An Umbrella Review of Systematic Reviews. Animals 2020, 10, 759. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050759

AMA Style

Santaniello A, Dicé F, Claudia Carratú R, Amato A, Fioretti A, Menna LF. Methodological and Terminological Issues in Animal-Assisted Interventions: An Umbrella Review of Systematic Reviews. Animals. 2020; 10(5):759. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050759

Chicago/Turabian Style

Santaniello, Antonio, Francesca Dicé, Roberta Claudia Carratú, Alessia Amato, Alessandro Fioretti, and Lucia F. Menna. 2020. "Methodological and Terminological Issues in Animal-Assisted Interventions: An Umbrella Review of Systematic Reviews" Animals 10, no. 5: 759. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050759

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