ijerph-logo

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Human-Animal Interactions: New Perspectives on the Impact on Human Health and Animal Welfare

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 April 2022) | Viewed by 46251

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
Interests: human animal interaction; mental health; animal-assisted interventions; addictions; applied health research

E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
Interests: human-animal interaction; mental health; dementia; addictions research
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln LN6 7TS, UK
Interests: animal behavior; welfare and cognition; human-animal interaction and health
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Research evidence of the potential benefits of human–animal Interactions (HAIs) on human health has been steadily emerging. Broadly speaking, in a health and social care context, relevant HAIs include therapeutically targeted animal-assisted therapy (AAT), non-directive spontaneous animal-assisted activities (AAA), animal-assisted education (AAE), but also the quality of our emotional relationships with companion animals (pets) and assistance animals. Study populations of interest cover the human lifespan, with outcomes under investigation referring to a wide variety of physiological, psychosocial, emotional and behavioural dimensions. Despite the rapidly growing popularity of the view that HAIs are “beneficial” for human health, the evidence base remains quite limited, often with mixed findings. The need for more rigorous research has been identified. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this appears to be especially important as the impact of pet ownership has been a subject of much interest and intense lobbying.

The IJEPHR invites submissions to this Special Issue focused on research investigating the mental and physical health and social outcomes of human–animal interactions (including living with companion or assistance animals; AAT; AAA; AAE, and interactions with non-domestic animals/wildlife). Topics can include—but are not limited to—issues at the forefront of public health concern (e.g., social isolation and loneliness, mental health, addiction, obesity and heart health), with a particular (but not exclusive) interest on work considering the role of HAI in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies that include perspectives related to animal welfare and behaviour as part of their investigative remit are particularly welcome. Contributions may be quantitative, qualitative or opinion pieces.

We very much look forward to receiving your submissions.

Dr. Elena Ratschen

Dr. Emily Shoesmith
Prof. Dr. Daniel Mills
Guest Editors

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 monthly 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 2500 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
  • animal-assisted interventions
  • animal-assisted therapy
  • animal-assisted education
  • mental health
  • wellbeing

Published Papers (8 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review, Other

9 pages, 339 KiB  
Article
Functional Outcomes in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Schizophrenia
by Chyi-Rong Chen, Chi-Fa Hung, Yi-Wen Lee, Wei-Ting Tseng, Mei-Li Chen and Tzu-Ting Chen
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(10), 6270; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19106270 - 21 May 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3198
Abstract
Deficits in cognition, physical, and social functions in adults with schizophrenia may become salient with aging. While animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can benefit physical function in older adults and improve symptoms of psychotic disorders, the effect of AAT on middle-aged patients with schizophrenia is [...] Read more.
Deficits in cognition, physical, and social functions in adults with schizophrenia may become salient with aging. While animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can benefit physical function in older adults and improve symptoms of psychotic disorders, the effect of AAT on middle-aged patients with schizophrenia is unclear. The current randomized controlled trial aimed to explore the efficacy of AAT for middle-aged patients with schizophrenia. Forty participants were randomly assigned to either the AAT or control group. The AAT group participated in one-hour sessions with dog-assisted group activities once a week for 12 weeks. The controls participated in dose-matched, non-animal-related recreational activities. Both groups remained on their usual psychotropic medication during the trial. Evaluations included the Chair Stand Test (CST), Timed Up-and-Go (TUG) test, Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), 5-Meter walk test (5MWT), and Assessment of Communication and Interaction Skills (ACIS). The increases in CST repetitions and ACIS scores were larger in the AAT group than in the controls. The two groups did not differ significantly in MoCA scores, TUG performance, or the 5MWT. The AAT group showed a greater increase in lower extremity strength and social skills, but no improvement in cognitive function, agility, or mobility. Further research with more sensitive evaluations and longer follow-up is needed. Full article
10 pages, 747 KiB  
Article
Friends with Benefits: The Positive Consequences of Pet-Friendly Practices for Workers’ Well-Being
by Ana Junça-Silva
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1069; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031069 - 19 Jan 2022
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 4679
Abstract
Although there is evidence that pets may help individuals who are facing significant daily stressors, little is known about the benefits of pet-friendly practices for their owners’ well-being. Based on the social exchange theory and on the Rusbult investment model, we argue that [...] Read more.
Although there is evidence that pets may help individuals who are facing significant daily stressors, little is known about the benefits of pet-friendly practices for their owners’ well-being. Based on the social exchange theory and on the Rusbult investment model, we argue that organizational pet-friendly practices will be viewed as a source of support from an organization that increases workers’ organizational identification, which in turn will lead to higher levels of psychological well-being and life satisfaction. For this study, 208 working adults answered an online questionnaire. Results from the study showed that the more pet-friendly practices the higher the workers’ organizational identification, which led to higher indices of psychological well-being and life satisfaction. This study contributes to a better understanding of the human–animal interaction and how pets can function as a resource for individuals’ well-being at work. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

18 pages, 1239 KiB  
Article
Family Member, Best Friend, Child or ‘Just’ a Pet, Owners’ Relationship Perceptions and Consequences for Their Cats
by Esther M. C. Bouma, Marsha L. Reijgwart and Arie Dijkstra
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010193 - 24 Dec 2021
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 8896
Abstract
Describing the relationship with one’s cat in human terms might reflect an underlying anthropomorphic view of the relationship which might be associated with an owner’s behavior towards their cat and the cat’s living environment. Owners self-categorized the relationship with their cat as either [...] Read more.
Describing the relationship with one’s cat in human terms might reflect an underlying anthropomorphic view of the relationship which might be associated with an owner’s behavior towards their cat and the cat’s living environment. Owners self-categorized the relationship with their cat as either a ‘member of the family’, ‘as a child’, ‘best friend’, or ‘a pet animal’. The extent to which owner- and cat-related factors influence these four relationship descriptions are examined in survey data of approximately 1800 cat owners. Differences in outdoor access, care during absence of the owner, and access to the bedroom are examined between the four relationship perceptions. The owner’s age and household composition, ideas about their cat’s equality, support, and dependency, and whether their cat is a pedigree were significantly associated with relationship description and explained 46% of the variance. Owners who perceive their cat as a child or best friend see their cat as loyal, empathetic, equal to family, and dependent on them for love and care. Their cats are less often left in the care of others, are allowed more often in the bedroom and have less often (unrestricted) outdoor access. Moreover, cats perceived as children are more likely to live in a multi-cat household. Our results provide insight in the factors that are related to different (anthropomorphic) perceptions of the human–cat relationship and how perceptions relate to the living environment of cats. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 370 KiB  
Article
The Role of Animal Ownership for People with Severe Mental Illness during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Method Study Investigating Links with Health and Loneliness
by Emily Shoesmith, Panagiotis Spanakis, Emily Peckham, Paul Heron, Gordon Johnston, Lauren Walker, Suzanne Crosland and Elena Ratschen
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211908 - 12 Nov 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3215
Abstract
Research has reported the benefits of companion animals for people with severe mental illness (SMI). However, this evidence base is fragmented and unclear. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to explore the role of companion animals in the context of social distancing and [...] Read more.
Research has reported the benefits of companion animals for people with severe mental illness (SMI). However, this evidence base is fragmented and unclear. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to explore the role of companion animals in the context of social distancing and isolation measures for people with SMI. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the links between mental and physical health and animal ownership in people with SMI and to explore animal owners’ perceptions related to human–animal interactions during the pandemic restrictions. A survey was conducted with a previously assembled cohort of individuals with SMI in the UK. The survey included previously validated and new bespoke items measuring demographics, and outcomes related to mental and physical health, and human–animal interactions. The survey also included a question inviting free-text responses, allowing participants to describe any experiences of their human–animal relationships during the pandemic. Of 315 participants who consented to participate, 249 (79%) completed the survey. Of these, 115 (46.2%) had at least one companion animal. Regression analyses indicated that animal ownership was not significantly associated with well-being and loneliness. However, animal ownership was associated with a self-reported decline in mental health (b = 0.640, 95% CI [0.102–1.231], p = 0.025), but no self-reported change in physical health. Thematic analysis identified two main themes relating to the positive and negative impact of animal ownership during pandemic restrictions. Animal ownership appeared to be linked to self-reported mental health decline in people with SMI during the second wave of the pandemic in the UK. However, the thematic analysis also highlighted the perceived benefit of animal ownership during this time. Further targeted investigation of the role of human–animal relationships and the perceived human–animal bond for human health is warranted. Full article
16 pages, 932 KiB  
Article
The Perceived Impact of The First UK COVID-19 Lockdown on Companion Animal Welfare and Behaviour: A Mixed-Method Study of Associations with Owner Mental Health
by Emily Shoesmith, Luciana Santos de Assis, Lion Shahab, Elena Ratschen, Paul Toner, Dimitra Kale, Catherine Reeve and Daniel S. Mills
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 6171; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116171 - 07 Jun 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 9922
Abstract
Background: Companion animals may be a positive presence for their owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the welfare of a companion animal is strongly influenced by the behaviour of their owners, as well as their physical and social environment. We aimed to investigate [...] Read more.
Background: Companion animals may be a positive presence for their owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the welfare of a companion animal is strongly influenced by the behaviour of their owners, as well as their physical and social environment. We aimed to investigate the reported changes in companion animal welfare and behaviour and to examine the association between these changes and companion animal owners’ mental health. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey of UK residents over 18 years of age was conducted between April and June 2020 (n = 5926). The questionnaire included validated, bespoke items measuring outcomes related to mental health, human-animal bonds and reported changes in animal welfare and behaviour. The final item of the survey invited open-ended free-text responses, allowing participants to describe experiences associated with human-animal relationships during the first UK lockdown phase. Results: Animal owners made up 89.8% of the sample (n = 5323), of whom 67.3% reported changes in their animal’s welfare and behaviour during the first lockdown phase (n = 3583). These reported changes were reduced to a positive (0–7) and negative (0–5) welfare scale, following principal component analysis (PCA) of 17 items. Participants reported more positive changes for cats, whereas more negative changes were reported for dogs. Thematic analysis identified three main themes relating to the positive and negative impact on companion animals of the COVID-19 pandemic. Generalised linear models indicated that companion animal owners with poorer mental health scores pre-lockdown reported fewer negative changes in animal welfare and behaviour. However, companion animal owners with poorer mental health scores since lockdown reported more changes, both positive and negative, in animal welfare and behaviour. Conclusion: Our findings extend previous insights into perceived welfare and behaviour changes on a very limited range of species to a wider range of companion animals. Owner mental health status has a clear, albeit small, effect on companion animal welfare and behaviour. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research, Other

26 pages, 771 KiB  
Review
Human–Animal Interaction and Perinatal Mental Health: A Narrative Review of Selected Literature and Call for Research
by Shelby E. McDonald, Camie A. Tomlinson, Jennifer W. Applebaum, Sara W. Moyer, Samantha M. Brown, Sue Carter and Patricia A. Kinser
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10114; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910114 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4598
Abstract
There is a paucity of research exploring how relationships with household pets may impact maternal mental health. We are unaware of any study to date that has examined associations between individuals’ relationships with their pets and psychological adjustment in the perinatal period. Using [...] Read more.
There is a paucity of research exploring how relationships with household pets may impact maternal mental health. We are unaware of any study to date that has examined associations between individuals’ relationships with their pets and psychological adjustment in the perinatal period. Using a biobehavioral lens, this paper provides a narrative overview of the literature on perinatal mental health and human–animal interaction (HAI). We focus on the role of social relationships, stress, and stress reduction in relation to perinatal mental health; the role of HAI in perceptions of social support, stressors, and stress reduction; and gaps in empirical knowledge concerning the role of HAI in perinatal mental health. Finally, we integrate contemporary biobehavioral models of perinatal mental health and HAI (i.e., Comprehensive Model of Mental Health during the Perinatal Period and the HAI–HPA Transactional Model) to propose a new conceptual framework that depicts ways in which HAI during the perinatal period may influence maternal and child health and wellbeing. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to consider the role of HAI in biobehavioral responses and mental health during the perinatal period. We conclude with recommendations for future research and improved perinatal care. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 1151 KiB  
Review
Animal Assisted Interventions in the Green Care Framework: A Literature Review
by Morgana Galardi, Marta De Santis, Roberta Moruzzo, Franco Mutinelli and Laura Contalbrigo
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9431; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189431 - 07 Sep 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3027
Abstract
Green Care (GC) and Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) are recognised practices useful to enhance the wellbeing of people through interaction with nature and animals. This study aims at understanding the interconnections between GC and AAI by analysing deeply which interaction with animals is [...] Read more.
Green Care (GC) and Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) are recognised practices useful to enhance the wellbeing of people through interaction with nature and animals. This study aims at understanding the interconnections between GC and AAI by analysing deeply which interaction with animals is conducted. Therefore, we carried out a literature search through Web of Science and Google Scholar that allowed retrieval of 993 records; after the PRISMA selection process, 42 were included. Relevant information was extracted: year of publication, geographical location, objectives, settings in agricultural environment, animal species, characteristics of users involved, type of human–animal interaction, coexistence of other activities without animals, animal health and welfare issues. From the review emerged that research on GC with animals is common in high-income countries and that the line between AAI and occupational therapy is often vague. Moreover, the most common setting for these interventions appears to be the farm, and frequently animals involved are not selected according to their ethological characteristics. Users in this context are extremely various and not only involved in activities with animals. Within the included studies, we noted a lack in the consideration of animal welfare that indicates the need for increased awareness among practitioners and a more ethical approach when animals are involved. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Other

Jump to: Research, Review

17 pages, 641 KiB  
Systematic Review
Evidence of Animal-Assisted Therapy in Neurological Diseases in Adults: A Systematic Review
by María del Carmen Rodríguez-Martínez, Alba De la Plana Maestre, Juan Antonio Armenta-Peinado, Miguel Ángel Barbancho and Natalia García-Casares
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 12882; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182412882 - 07 Dec 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5369
Abstract
Background: In recent years, the possibility of intervening humans with animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been growing due to numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits provided to humanity, enabling them to maintain or improve their quality of life. There exist different animals through which [...] Read more.
Background: In recent years, the possibility of intervening humans with animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been growing due to numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits provided to humanity, enabling them to maintain or improve their quality of life. There exist different animals through which this therapy can be performed. The purpose of this systematic review will focus on the effects of AAT in several neurological diseases. Methods: The search of clinical trials was carried out in the PubMed, Scielo, Embase and PEDro databases. The selection of articles was made according to the different inclusion and exclusion criteria, incorporating those that approached neurological diseases to be reviewed. Results: Twenty-five clinical trials were identified, seventeen of which were finally included in the review. The results indicate that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in different neurological diseases has many benefits in several areas, for example, in motor and physical ability as well as in mental and behavioural health. Conclusions: This systematic review provides occupational therapy practitioners with evidence on the use of activity based on animal-assisted therapy as a novel field of intervention that can complement other therapies and obtain benefits in different populations. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop