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Special Issue "The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Aubrey H. Fine
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Education, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA 91768, USA
Interests: animal assisted interventions; social skills; parenting
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on the psycho-social impact of human-animal interactions (HAIs) on health in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

The study of HAI has received an enormous amount of multidisciplinary interest over the past few decades, including research on therapy and service animals. Our relationships with nonhuman animals is now being examined in more depth to understand the physiological and psycho-social benefits of these interactions throughout the lifespan. Additional attention has been given to investigating the role of animals in supporting the lives of vulnerable populations, including the elderly and persons with disabilities.

This Special Issue is open to any subject area related to the psycho-social benefits of human-animal interactions. The listed keywords suggest just a few of the many possibilities.

Prof. Dr. Aubrey H. Fine
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Human-animal interactions
  • Human animal bond
  • Health benefits of companion animals
  • Psychological benefits of pets with the elderly
  • Psycho-social benefits of AAI with persons with disabilities
  • HAI and its role in trauma
  • Pet companionship
  • Cross cultural differences and similarities in HAI
  • Animal-assisted interventions
  • Animals and social capital
  • Animal welfare concerns
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Assistance and service animals
  • Pet bereavement and loss

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 3964; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17113964 - 03 Jun 2020
Viewed by 583
Abstract
When I was asked by the Journal to guest edit a special issue on the psychosocial impact of human-animal interactions, I was honored to accept the invitation [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)

Research

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Article
Understanding the Link between Animal Cruelty and Family Violence: The Bioecological Systems Model
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3116; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093116 - 30 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2009
Abstract
Violence towards animals and violence towards people are often interconnected problems, and as such, this phenomenon has been termed the Link. Violence towards animals is a strong predictor that the abuser may inflict violence on people. However, it must not be assumed this [...] Read more.
Violence towards animals and violence towards people are often interconnected problems, and as such, this phenomenon has been termed the Link. Violence towards animals is a strong predictor that the abuser may inflict violence on people. However, it must not be assumed this is always the case. Professionals treating an animal or a human patient/client who has been subjected to abuse are uniquely situated to act in the role of ‘first responders’ when they suspect or recognize animal abuse, human abuse, or family violence. To more fully understand the Link the authors introduce Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems model through which to examine the complexity of the problem. Using data from earlier studies in which they interviewed police officers, other law enforcers, veterinarians, social workers, and community and family members, the authors discuss the correlation between animal cruelty and family violence. Furthermore, they examine how Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems model has the potential to better support animal and human health and welfare professionals in the identification of strategies for animals and humans caught in abusive settings. The authors recommend that these professionals become familiar with the bioecological systems model, which will enable them to better understand the psychological problems of animal cruelty and family violence and the different bioecological contributing factors. The authors emphasize transdisciplinary collaboration as vital in the recognition, prevention, and protection of animal and human victims trapped in family violence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Article
Riding into Health: A Case Study on an Equine-Assisted Childhood Obesity Intervention
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4835; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234835 - 01 Dec 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1445
Abstract
In this article, we present an exploratory case study that describes the initial outcomes of the Equine-Assisted Positively Fit (EAPF) program. Children with obesity and their caregivers were recruited to participate in the eight-session program. Results indicated that treatment completers (n = [...] Read more.
In this article, we present an exploratory case study that describes the initial outcomes of the Equine-Assisted Positively Fit (EAPF) program. Children with obesity and their caregivers were recruited to participate in the eight-session program. Results indicated that treatment completers (n = 2) had a decrease in fat mass and fat mass percentage and an increase in fat-free mass and fat-free mass percentage. Moreover, results from accelerometer measurements of physical activity indicated that participants increased their moderate to vigorous physical activity, as well as reported increased self-efficacy for physical activity. Qualitative data from the post-intervention focus group suggested children perceived the treatment acceptable and enjoyable. Findings from this study provide support for future investigations on the feasibility and potential efficacy of pairing children and their caregivers with horses to accomplish health-related goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
The Influence of Companion Animals on Quality of Life of Gay and Bisexual Men Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4457; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224457 - 13 Nov 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1252
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
Companion Dog Foster Caregiver Program for Older Veterans at the VA Maryland Health Care System: A Feasibility Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4285; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214285 - 04 Nov 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1273
Abstract
Veterans experience mental health conditions at a disproportionate rate compared to their civilian counterparts, and approximately 60% of older veterans who receive their care through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) do not meet physical activity (PA) recommendations. We tested the [...] Read more.
Veterans experience mental health conditions at a disproportionate rate compared to their civilian counterparts, and approximately 60% of older veterans who receive their care through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) do not meet physical activity (PA) recommendations. We tested the Veterans as Foster Ambassadors program at the VA Maryland Health Care System to examine whether fostering a companion dog would improve PA and function, heart rate variability (HRV), balance, and quality of life (QOL) in older veterans. Participants wore an accelerometer for ≥10 days during each phase (30 day baseline vs. 60 day foster period) to measure daily PA (n = 4). Six-minute walk (6MW) and balance testing (n = 4) and 24 h heart rate (HR) and HRV (n = 2) were determined at baseline and during the foster period. Compared to baseline, there were significant increases in (a) distance during the 6MW, (b) daily steps, and (c) time spent in moderate activity during the foster period. 24 h HR decreased and time- and frequency-domain measures of HRV significantly increased in a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder during the foster period compared to baseline. All veterans offered positive feedback about the program and indicated that it was beneficial to them. The results from this pilot study provide evidence that fostering a companion dog can improve PA, health, and QOL in older veterans. Future research conducted with a larger sample size to validate the results is warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Article
Leaving A Mark, An Animal-Assisted Intervention Programme for Children Who Have Been Exposed to Gender-Based Violence: A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4084; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214084 - 24 Oct 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2095
Abstract
Gender-based violence is one of the most serious social and health problems faced by women around the world. Importantly, it has a negative impact not only on the woman’s physical and mental health, but also on all members of the family system in [...] Read more.
Gender-based violence is one of the most serious social and health problems faced by women around the world. Importantly, it has a negative impact not only on the woman’s physical and mental health, but also on all members of the family system in which it takes place. The aims of this study were to implement Leaving a Mark, an animal-assisted intervention (AAI) programme for children who have been exposed to gender-based violence, and to examine its effect on their associated clinical symptoms. The participants were 19 children (13 boys and 6 girls; Mage = 8.89, SD = 2.23) who had been exposed to domestic violence perpetrated either by their father or their mother’s intimate partner. Clinical symptoms were assessed using the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). After taking part in the AAI programme, the children showed a reduction in internalizing symptoms and in symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, no significant changes were observed in externalizing symptoms or in affective and behavioural dysregulation (CBCL-Dysregulation Profile). These results provide preliminary support for the use of the Leaving a Mark programme with children who have been exposed to domestic violence. However, further studies with a larger sample and more rigorous design are required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
Small Animal Veterinarians’ Perceptions, Experiences, and Views of Common Dog Breeds, Dog Aggression, and Breed-Specific Laws in the United States
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4081; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214081 - 23 Oct 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2567
Abstract
Dog aggression directed towards humans is a common and serious behavioral and public health issue. This cross-sectional study was designed to gain insights into U.S. small animal veterinarians’ views and experiences with the most common dog breeds in the U.S., dog aggression, and [...] Read more.
Dog aggression directed towards humans is a common and serious behavioral and public health issue. This cross-sectional study was designed to gain insights into U.S. small animal veterinarians’ views and experiences with the most common dog breeds in the U.S., dog aggression, and breed-specific legislation. An electronic survey was distributed via email to an online veterinary community, and responses were summarized and compared by means of χ2 and Cochran–Mantel–Haenszel tests. Most respondents were concerned about the risks of dog bite injuries, but the majority were not in favor of banning specific breeds of dogs in order to enhance public safety. When participants rated the perceived bite risk associated with popular dog breeds, Chow Chows were perceived as the highest risk, with pit bull types categorized as a moderate risk. Golden Retrievers were seen as the most appropriate for families with children. Public education about animal behavior was the most frequently endorsed policy intervention to increase public safety. These findings suggest that most veterinarians feel that banning an entire dog breed is not an effective way to ensure human safety. Instead, most respondents endorsed alternative initiatives, such as public education and stricter leash laws, to reduce the risk of dog bites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
Canine-Assisted Therapy Improves Well-Being in Nurses
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3670; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193670 - 30 Sep 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2463
Abstract
As nursing is one of the most stressful occupations worldwide, its management warrants more attention to identify possible ways to cope with its pressures. This study aims to evaluate whether animal-assisted therapy (AAT) with the presence of a dog affects the stress level [...] Read more.
As nursing is one of the most stressful occupations worldwide, its management warrants more attention to identify possible ways to cope with its pressures. This study aims to evaluate whether animal-assisted therapy (AAT) with the presence of a dog affects the stress level of nurses. As a stress biomarker, we used salivary cortisol level testing. Twenty female nurses (mean age: 30) in physical medicine (PMR) (n = 11) and the department of internal medicine and long-term care (IM < C) (n = 9). On each of the three observed days, saliva was collected at 10 a.m. and then again after 50 min. The first sampling was performed during a normal working process without a break (Condition A), the second was carried out during a normal working process with a break of choice (Condition B), and the third sampling was performed during a normal working process with a break with AAT (Condition C). All participants were enrolled in all three interventional conditions in a randomized order. The results demonstrated the effect of a reduction of cortisol levels in Condition C, where AAT was included (p = 0.02) only in nurses recruited from the IM < C department. By way of explanation, nurses from the PMR department already showed low cortisol levels at baseline. We propose including AAT with a dog in healthcare facilities where nurses are at a high risk of stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Article
And in the Middle of My Chaos There Was You?—Dog Companionship and Its Impact on the Assessment of Stressful Situations
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3664; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193664 - 29 Sep 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1298
Abstract
Recent studies show evidence that human-dog companionship has healthy effects on humans. For example, findings demonstrate that owning a dog leads to a reduction in stress levels. Aspects that have not been taken into consideration so far are underlying theoretical principles of stress [...] Read more.
Recent studies show evidence that human-dog companionship has healthy effects on humans. For example, findings demonstrate that owning a dog leads to a reduction in stress levels. Aspects that have not been taken into consideration so far are underlying theoretical principles of stress like the sense of coherence (SOC) by Aaron Antonovsky. The SOC consists of psycho-social, biochemical and physical conditions which indicate whether or not inner and outer stimuli are comprehensive, manageable and meaningful to an individual. In addition, it is still unclear if owning a dog affects the subjective assessment of critical life events (CLE), which is associated with the strength of the SOC (the stronger the SOC, the better the handling and assessment of stressful situations). Based on these aspects, the goal of the study was to examine if dog ownership, as well as values of the SOC, have an impact on the subjective evaluation of CLE (including daily hassles as well as unexpected critical life events). For this purpose, dog owners and non-dog owners were surveyed online and were compared based on their personal estimations regarding these constructs. Statistical analysis including t-tests, correlations and interaction-analyses were performed and a significant difference between dog owners and non-dog owners regarding the assessment of daily hassles was found. Contrary to expectations, results show that dog owners assessed daily stressors to be more stressful than non-dog owners did. Moreover, data show that the higher the number of stated relationships (inner- and cross-species), the more stressful life events were assessed to be. Calculations showed no evidence for the influence of dogs regarding the SOC. Based on the actual findings, it might be assumed, that an overestimation of the dog’s protective role regarding stress has taken place in public media and in research as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Article
Does Dog Ownership Affect Physical Activity, Sleep, and Self-Reported Health in Older Adults?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3355; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183355 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2243
Abstract
Physical activity (PA) is crucial for maintaining good health of older adults and owning a dog and walking it can enforce it. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of dog ownership on PA in older adults as well as [...] Read more.
Physical activity (PA) is crucial for maintaining good health of older adults and owning a dog and walking it can enforce it. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of dog ownership on PA in older adults as well as its positive impact on perceived degree of health, and sleep. There were 44 participants of mean age 68 ± 5.4 years (18 males, 26 females) enrolled in this study (dog owners—DO, n = 26; non-dog owners—NDO, n = 18). Xiaomi Mi Band 2 accelerometer, International Physical Activity Questionnaire- Short form (IPAQ-Short Form) and SF-36 questionnaires were used to measure the level of PA, sleep, and subjective health. A statistically significant difference was observed in favor of dog owners in most of the monitored parameters. All accelerometer PA parameters (step count, activity time, distance, calories) showed a significant difference at a p < 0.01. Sleep parameters were significant in total sleep length (p = 0.05) and light sleep length (p < 0.05). DO reported higher total PA time (min/week), MET/min/week spent in walking, and spent calories/week (p < 0.05). In SF-36 they reported higher score (p < 0.05) in general health, physical functioning, social functioning, pain, vitality, and emotional well-being. Body mass index (BMI) was significantly lower in the DO group (p < 0.01). The results suggest that dog ownership may affect the overall PA and health of older adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
Evaluation of Undergraduate Students’ Responsiveness to a 4-Week University-Based Animal-Assisted Stress Prevention Program
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3331; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183331 - 10 Sep 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2156
Abstract
An increase in the prevalence of stress among college students is compromising their mental health and academic success. One approach to stress prevention that has seen a surge in implementation is the use of university-based Animal Visitation Programs (AVPs). Despite their popularity and [...] Read more.
An increase in the prevalence of stress among college students is compromising their mental health and academic success. One approach to stress prevention that has seen a surge in implementation is the use of university-based Animal Visitation Programs (AVPs). Despite their popularity and promising causal findings, program evaluations on students’ responsiveness (e.g., enjoyment, attendance, perceptions on usefulness and behavioral change) have yet to be conducted. Using a mixed methods approach, this study reports results of a program evaluation embedded in a randomized controlled trial examining the efficacy of incorporating various levels (0%, 50% or 100%) of Human Animal Interaction (HAI) into a four-week long university-based stress prevention program resulting in three conditions: (1) Evidence-based Academic Stress Management content only (0% HAI), (2) Human Animal Interaction with therapy dogs only (100% HAI) and (3) equal combinations of Academic Stress Management and HAI (50% HAI). Responsiveness (e.g., enjoyment, usefulness, recommendation and behavioral change) was assessed quantitatively and qualitatively using self-reported survey data collected immediately following the program and again six weeks later. The results suggest that combining evidence-based content presentations with HAI was associated with higher levels of enjoyment, perceived usefulness, and likelihood of recommendation compared to presenting content presentation or HAI alone, although doing so did not result in differences in perceived behavioral change by condition. Themes of students’ perceptions on the role of HAI in shaping program enjoyment, usefulness, recommendations and behavioral change were described. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Article
Observing Live Fish Improves Perceptions of Mood, Relaxation and Anxiety, But Does Not Consistently Alter Heart Rate or Heart Rate Variability
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3113; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173113 - 27 Aug 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1917
Abstract
Although fish and other aquatic species are popular privately-kept pets, little is known about the effects of watching live fish on the perceptions of arousal and the link between those perceptions and physiological measures of arousal. In two separate experiments, participants were asked [...] Read more.
Although fish and other aquatic species are popular privately-kept pets, little is known about the effects of watching live fish on the perceptions of arousal and the link between those perceptions and physiological measures of arousal. In two separate experiments, participants were asked to watch identically-equipped fish tanks for five minutes in each of three conditions: (1) Live fish, (2) plants and water, and (3) empty tank. Linear mixed models used across both experiments revealed similar results: Greater perceptions of relaxation and mood, and less anxiety during or after viewing the live fish condition, compared with the other conditions. Heart rate and heart rate variability responded to the arousal associated with a math task, but did not differ consistently across viewing conditions. These results suggest that the link between perceptions of arousal, and the physiological measures associated with arousal, may not be strong or immediate, or that heart rate and heart rate variability may not be appropriate measures for the test population. Implications of these results for the biophilia hypothesis and the biopsychosocial model are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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“There Is a Cat on Our Ward”: Inpatient and Staff Member Attitudes toward and Experiences with Cats in a Psychiatric Ward
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3108; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173108 - 27 Aug 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1225
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate inpatient and staff member attitudes toward and experiences with ward cats, and identify possible mechanisms for how cats affect patient satisfaction in a psychiatric clinic. Thirty-three inpatients diagnosed with depression or psychosis residing on wards [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate inpatient and staff member attitudes toward and experiences with ward cats, and identify possible mechanisms for how cats affect patient satisfaction in a psychiatric clinic. Thirty-three inpatients diagnosed with depression or psychosis residing on wards with and without cats and 17 staff members working on wards with cats participated in semi-structured interviews using a cross-sectional study design. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and correlations. The results showed that 17 out of 19 inpatients and all the staff members liked having a cat on their ward. Further, 12 out of 14 inpatients on wards without cats would like having a cat on their ward. Inpatient perceptions of the cat’s impact on the ward atmosphere correlated significantly with their emotional relationship with the cat (p = 0.015, r = 0.561), how often they saw the cat (p = 0.002, r = 0.676), and if they liked cats in general (p = 0.041, r = 0.486). Our results highlight the positive attitudes of inpatients and staff members toward ward cats and the potential of ward cats to enhance patient satisfaction. This influence might be mediated by factors such as the frequency of contact, the relationship between each patient and the cat, and each patient’s attitude toward cats in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
Animal-Assisted Intervention Improves Pain Perception in Polymedicated Geriatric Patients with Chronic Joint Pain: A Clinical Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2843; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162843 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3642
Abstract
Chronic joint pain is associated to an increase in the consumption of medication and decrease in life quality in elderly people, which requires developing non-pharmacological treatments. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectivity of a group intervention, based on animal-assisted [...] Read more.
Chronic joint pain is associated to an increase in the consumption of medication and decrease in life quality in elderly people, which requires developing non-pharmacological treatments. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectivity of a group intervention, based on animal-assisted therapy and applied to elderly people with chronic joint pain and polymedication, regarding the decrease of chronic pain, use of analgesics and improvement of life quality. A randomized controlled trial, two arms and open-label was conducted in a Primary Health Center. Twelve weekly sessions of kinesitherapy; in the EG, these exercises were performed with the additional assistance of the therapy dog. A total of 52 participants (22 Control Group (CG), 30 EG), average age 77.50 (±7.3), women 90.4%. A significant reduction on post-intervention values of pain β = −0.67(−1.27, −0.08), p = 0.03 and pain induced insomnia β = −0.53(−1.01, −0.05), p = 0.03 was found in EG for increasing baseline values. Animal-assisted therapy leads to an additional reduction in the perception of pain and pain induced insomnia in individuals with higher baseline severity. The presence of the dog improves the attachment to intervention and the satisfaction of the participants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Article
Case Study: How Horses Helped a Teenager with Autism Make Friends and Learn How to Work
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2325; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132325 - 01 Jul 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2058
Abstract
I was born in 1947 and had autism with speech delay until age four. I am now a college professor of animal science. Horse activities enabled me to make friends through a shared interest in horses. This paper describes the benefits that I [...] Read more.
I was born in 1947 and had autism with speech delay until age four. I am now a college professor of animal science. Horse activities enabled me to make friends through a shared interest in horses. This paper describes the benefits that I experienced from working with horses and my friendships and work skills. A close friendship developed with another student through both riding and horse craft projects. Keeping employment is a serious problem for many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The responsibility of caring for horses and cleaning stalls every day taught me good work skills. My experiences suggest that there were valuable outcomes from working with horses. This may be a beneficial intervention to include in programming for youth with ASD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
Companion Animal Ownership and Human Well-Being in a Metropolis—The Case of Hong Kong
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(10), 1729; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16101729 - 16 May 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1794
Abstract
Global urbanization has given cause for a re-assessment of the nature and importance of the relationship between humans and domesticated animals. In densely-populated urban societies, where loneliness and alienation can be prevalent, the use of animals as human companions has taken on heightened [...] Read more.
Global urbanization has given cause for a re-assessment of the nature and importance of the relationship between humans and domesticated animals. In densely-populated urban societies, where loneliness and alienation can be prevalent, the use of animals as human companions has taken on heightened importance. Hong Kong is the world’s most urbanised political entity, and thus provides an ideal context for the exploration of the role of animals in the provision of companionship for human beings in cities. A web-based survey with descriptive analyses, regression, and ANOVA was conducted. Six-hundred-and-forty-seven companion animal owners and 312 non-owners completed the survey that examined their socio-demographic information, companion animal ownership status, and physical-psychosocial well-being. The statistically significant findings appear to suggest that socio-demographic variables (i.e., age, gender, housing, and education level) have stronger predictive values than companion animal ownership status with respect to the well-being of people in Hong Kong. Due the unique environmental features in Hong Kong, the positive impacts of companion animal ownership on the physical well-being of owners may be limited by the city’s cramped living space and the limited number of people who own companion animals. However, results suggested that companion animals may still serve as a social lubricant between the owners and their significant others, thereby playing a heightened role significant role in enhancing general social connectedness in a metropolis. Given the importance of animals as human companions, it is suggested that relevant administrative agencies need to consider the development of policies and facilities which are conducive to both the maintenance and development of the bonds between humans and their companion animals and the physical and psychosocial health of both. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Evaluating the Relationship between Well-Being and Living with a Dog for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Feasibility Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(8), 1472; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081472 - 25 Apr 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2128
Abstract
Chronic low back pain is a significant societal and personal burden that negatively impacts quality of life. Dog ownership has been associated with health benefits. This study evaluated the feasibility of surveying people with chronic low back pain to assess the relationship between [...] Read more.
Chronic low back pain is a significant societal and personal burden that negatively impacts quality of life. Dog ownership has been associated with health benefits. This study evaluated the feasibility of surveying people with chronic low back pain to assess the relationship between dog ownership and well-being. A mail-out survey was sent to 210 adult patients with chronic low back pain. Measures of quality of life, pain, physical activity, emotional health, social ties and dog ownership were included. Feasibility was assessed by examining survey response rate, responses to established and newly developed measures, and the potential relationships between dog ownership and a number of key well-being variables in this patient population. There were 56 completed surveys returned (n = 36 non-dog owners and n = 20 dog owners). Established, adapted and newly developed scales revealed promising results. Dog owners reported fewer depression and anxiety symptoms, and more social ties than non-dog owners. Living with a dog may be associated with improved well-being for people with chronic pain. The findings from this feasibility study will inform a general population survey, to be conducted with a larger, more representative sample of people living with chronic pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Article
Effect of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Patients in the Department of Long-Term Care: A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(8), 1362; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081362 - 16 Apr 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2363
Abstract
Long-term hospital stays might have a negative psychosocial impact on our patients. One way to positively activate hospitalized patients is to introduce animal-assisted therapy (AAT). A total of 72 individuals participated in this research. The experimental group comprised 33 patients (8 males, 25 [...] Read more.
Long-term hospital stays might have a negative psychosocial impact on our patients. One way to positively activate hospitalized patients is to introduce animal-assisted therapy (AAT). A total of 72 individuals participated in this research. The experimental group comprised 33 patients (8 males, 25 females), while the control group contained 39 patients (11 men, 28 women). The participants in the control group were aged from 58 to 100 years and the experimental group featured participants aged from 51 to 95, for whom AAT was included alongside standard care. Blood pressure, heart rate, Barthel index, and general mood were measured in both groups. Results did not reveal any changes in blood pressure, heart rate, or Barthel index in comparison between groups. A great influence was noted in assessment of the mood of the patients. The inclusion of AAT did not affect physiological parameters, but it exerted a significant effect on the psychological well-being of the patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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Review
The State of Animal-Assisted Interventions: Addressing the Contemporary Issues That Will Shape the Future
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 3997; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16203997 - 18 Oct 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2253
Abstract
As the worldwide popularity of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) increases, the field is quickly approaching a paradigm shift, adjusting its image to incorporate more evidence-based research and aligning its purpose for advancing a new future. Contemporary critical issues that confront the field today include, [...] Read more.
As the worldwide popularity of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) increases, the field is quickly approaching a paradigm shift, adjusting its image to incorporate more evidence-based research and aligning its purpose for advancing a new future. Contemporary critical issues that confront the field today include, but are not limited, to research, animal welfare, practice guidelines, and public policy. This article will provide an overview of the history of AAI and the major milestones that the field has undergone. The current state of AAI research will be scrutinized, and the areas that warrant further study will be recommended. Special attention will be given to the current state of animal welfare in AAI, the research that has been done in the area, and practice guidelines that safeguard animal wellbeing. This article will then discuss how evidence-based research and animal welfare guidelines inform the development of comprehensive professional standards and influence changes in public policy regarding AAI. The authors’ perceptions for the field’s future trajectory will be presented, which will include solutions to move the field in the direction that best advances the human-animal bond in research, practice, and public perception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)

Other

Concept Paper
A Proposal for a Comprehensive Human–Animal Approach of Evaluation for Animal-Assisted Interventions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4305; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224305 - 06 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1418
Abstract
Background: An important field of human–animal interactions is animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), which refers to research on human–animal interactions in order to promote or facilitate health or education in humans. Very few studies among the rich literature on AAIs seem to include aspects [...] Read more.
Background: An important field of human–animal interactions is animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), which refers to research on human–animal interactions in order to promote or facilitate health or education in humans. Very few studies among the rich literature on AAIs seem to include aspects of animal welfare and/or animal ethics. Also, very few studies on AAIs have a comprehensive human–animal approach that studies animals, humans, and the relations between them at the same time. This paper tries to argue for and present a possible comprehensive human–animal approach to evaluate AAIs. Methods: A combination of the species and role approach proposed by Lerner, the capability approach proposed by Nussbaum, and a modified comprehensive human–animal approach to evaluate AAIs proposed by Lerner and Silfverberg was philosophically analyzed. Results: This paper shows that the combination is the modified role and species version of the capabilities approach, and by following it one could do a comprehensive human–animal approach of an evaluation of AAIs. Conclusion: Although the aim was reached for horses and animal-assisted therapy, further work needs to be done for all species suggested in the IAHAIO (International Association of Human–Animal Interaction Organizations) White Paper as well as for all branches of AAIs in order to establish this comprehensive human–animal approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Concept Paper
The Human–Animal Relationship as the Focus of Animal-Assisted Interventions: A One Health Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3660; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193660 - 29 Sep 2019
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 2005
Abstract
Background: Animal-assisted intervention (AAIs) represent an adequate expression of integrated medicine, according to the One Health approach. We argue that AAIs are interventions based on interspecific relationships between humans and animals. Although there are many studies on the effects of AAIs on animal [...] Read more.
Background: Animal-assisted intervention (AAIs) represent an adequate expression of integrated medicine, according to the One Health approach. We argue that AAIs are interventions based on interspecific relationships between humans and animals. Although there are many studies on the effects of AAIs on animal and human health and wellbeing, research is still needed to give us more data. For example, information is still lacking on the aspects characterizing and influencing the interspecific relationships occurring in AAIs. The efficacy of an intervention based on interspecific relationships will be influenced by different factors, such as attachment styles and personalities of both the animal and the handler, an appropriate choice of animal species and their individuality, animal educational training techniques, the relationship between the handler and the animal, and relational reciprocity between animal, the patients, and members of the working team. Method: This article aims to contribute to the study of interspecific relationships in AAIs via theoretical considerations. An interspecific relationship determines the result of safe interventions, which directly influences the welfare of the animal. Results and considerations: AAIs should be evaluated systemically as a network within a process in which every component interacts with and influences other components. Standardized methods using appropriate tests and parameters are needed to better select appropriate animals (i.e., species and individual subjects) using interspecific relational competences as well as appropriate educational training methods and health protocols to assess potential risks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
Concept Paper
A One Health Research Framework for Animal-Assisted Interventions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040640 - 21 Feb 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2285
Abstract
Background: The integration of animals into healthcare, referred to as animal-assisted intervention, is a rapidly growing research field and was previously related to One Health. However, the assessment of synergistic effects of animal-assisted interventions (AAI) has been poorly addressed to date. Method: We [...] Read more.
Background: The integration of animals into healthcare, referred to as animal-assisted intervention, is a rapidly growing research field and was previously related to One Health. However, the assessment of synergistic effects of animal-assisted interventions (AAI) has been poorly addressed to date. Method: We discuss experiences in integrated human and animal assessments in AAI and provide a methodical framework for One Health approaches in AAI research. We propose theoretical consideration of an integrated human and animal health assessment, as well as the use of such an integrated approach in research. Based on the existing research, we argue that, for a deeper understanding of AAI mechanisms, parallel research designs are needed. Results and Conclusion: Our paper shows that a One Health study design is necessary to ensure that a tradeoff in health of animals is prevented and that an added value, or synergistic benefit, can be achieved on both sides during animal-assisted interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psycho-Social Impact of Human-Animal Interactions)
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